Balancing Act

Yes, I managed to allow myself to just go ahead and get sick.

I fought that sore throat for about 3 days before I finally just told myself, All right. I’m just going to submit to some sort of overall ill-ease and then just move on.

The message exchanges between me and Mob Guy #2 continued for a couple of hours on Monday morning and then sort of came to a peaceful place of rest.  But, really, I was just astounded by the beautiful things he told me, about how he’d felt back then, that I simply had not known. I of course apologized for having been so fucked up back then that I couldn’t hear what he’d been saying.

He said, “You weren’t fucked up. You were just in a  one-sided marriage and really unhappy.”

Wow. Was it really that simple? All my insanity? I was desperately unhappy in my second marriage, especially toward the end of it, as I became a successful writer/producer and my husband belittled all of my triumphs. ( And they were triumphs. I hate to play the “woman” card, but at that time in our culture, I was one of a key group of women in America who were making amazingly beautiful and powerful changes to the sex industry through not only publishing but also through the Internet as a multi-media producer. This was in the infancy of the Internet, before it got completely cannibalized by unimaginative, hardcore porn — produced, frankly, predominantly by men.)

As that marriage wound down, I was always at odds with my husband. Always. Daily. He was just as unhappy with me as I was with him. I can’t go into personal stuff about him because that would be invasive, but for me, I don’t know; I just never knew how to be “normal.” Couldn’t be “normal” if my life depended on it. I don’t even know what normal is. When I see someone who sort of looks like maybe they’re “normal”, I wonder, wow, isn’t their brain, like, unraveling inside? Isn’t there some great un-normal thing they’d really dearly like to be expressing right at this moment?

Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe most people really are okay with falling in line and having simple, manageable lives.

For me, though, what has to be removed from who I am in order to become simple and more manageable,  leads to madness.  It truly does. And I never wanted to be like Virginia Woolf, going off to the river with rocks in my pocket. I have attempted suicide twice in my lifetime, and I guess there’s still plenty of time left to get it right the third time. But I really, really do not want to be that person. Because of that, I simply have to allow myself to be who I am.

My first husband didn’t have any kind of picnics with me, either, but he was raised Buddhist, and perhaps that helped. He pretty much took the attitude early on of: Well, I’m just going to let this pony run. He was pissed off at me most of the time, especially when I left him & moved out, but he refused to divorce me for years. Not until he saw that I was actually going to be okay and so he went off, finally, and had a life of his own.

But my second husband? He was a much more hands’ on kind of guy.  I think he was determined, for a while there, at any rate, to figure me out.  But I just totally wore him down because I was always, always, always all about sex. Not only did I always need to have sex every 14.5 seconds of every single day, it was always really complicated sex because I was a fetishist. He was not.  He put up with it, really  tried to accommodate me at first . ME (on a comparatively simple Saturday afternoon on the Upper West Side): “Wayne, can you go get the drill and put in a couple of really sturdy eye-hooks right over here?” HIM: “Now? Like, right now? I’ve got a hard-on, for chrissakes, can’t we just utilize that and then I’ll  go get the drill afterwards?” (The answer was actually ‘no’ in case you’re curious.)

A lot of fetishists I knew in NYC made their “straight” marriages work by having above-board outside arrangements. But I hated dungeons and play parties and orgies, etc., etc. And I never wanted to hire somebody to simply go through a set of rigid rituals with me. I wanted to just be with one person who I loved, who loved me and was into what I was into.

Turns out that’s a super tall order to fill. And I am only now, in hindsight, seeing just how unhappy that made me. How emotionally isolated I allowed myself to get for so many years.

You know, I actually really like to do things like clean house, sew, cook and bake, I really like to do laundry and go grocery shopping. I honestly love doing shit like that. On the outside, it looks like I could be a really good wife. I honestly get excited by things like a new washing machine. Really excited. All these new clothes-washing options at my fingertips– come on, dude,  let’s do laundry! But the rest of me is on some distant, lonely planet, far, far away.  I used to try to perfect my apple pies. I was so intense about getting the crust just right, the filling at that perfect texture, the flavors balanced just perfectly. I took my baking seriously (and did it professionally at MoMA for a while).

But eating the pie was not the pay-off; creating the pie was the spiritual connection for me. And for some unknown reason, spiritual connections for me are always erotic. My husband would come home and see “pie!” Let’s have a piece of pie! ME: “Okay, but first, I was thinking, you know — I went down to St. Mark’s Place today and bought an amazing outfit at the fetish store. I could go put that on, and we could play Pony Girl Lounge for awhile, and you could tie me up and –” HIM: “And it’ll take you forever to come because all you do anymore is plateau and plateau and plateau, and then I have to work really, really, really hard to finally get you to come, and then it’s 5 hours later, and I’m exhausted, and then I get to have pie? Marilyn, I just want to have pie.” ME: “Fine.” But secretly saying: That outfit looks really good on me, dude, and I put it on your freakin’ credit card and it was expensive. Enjoy your pie.

We developed this really intense way of hating each other by the end there. But I didn’t feel good about it. I was always feeling so intensely guilty. About just being me.

I left Wayne 15 years ago.  And I didn’t really learn how to let go of all my intense guilt until last year.  Seriously. Last year. When I moved out to the Hinterlands and left everything and everyone I knew behind me in a city in Ohio that I despised. A city I had returned to because I thought it was going to make sense for me to do that, but I was wrong. The only thing right about that move back was that I finally went into Divinity School full-time and became a minister, after years of fits & starts doing that in NYC.

I make jokes about my being a sinner in regards to my ministry and my fetishes, but I really did have a tough time accepting that I was a fetishist when I went into the ministry.  I didn’t go blithely into that. I really did examine myself and what I thought Jesus was saying to me.  I really do believe that Jesus couldn’t care less what my sex life is like; what the contents of my mind is like. He wants me to love people, and to try my best to love people as he would love people, and then of course, bring people to him if it seems like that is what the person is seeking to make them feel whole.

So I guess what really bothers me most, as I look back on all these passages of my life, because I suddenly have a Muse that is so alluring and so inspiring and keeps showing me these unexpected passages of my life — what is bothering me the most is seeing how I allowed myself to get so tangled up with who I was or wasn’t supposed to be, so many judgmental voices in my head, that I couldn’t really hear what anyone was trying to say to me. For years. I only listened to the harshest voices. I blocked out so much love because that’s what I had been taught to do.

I feel terrible about that. I’m trying not to let it weigh me down, though. I’m trying to just look on it as “yesterday” and let today be brand new. Wide open. More loving.

And if I spend more and more time with the Muse right now and less and less time with actual people for awhile, it’s going to be a really good thing. Yesterday, my Hurley Falls Mysteries blew wide open for me, when I was least expecting it.  Suddenly, around 10 AM yesterday morning, the Muse put an awesome picture in my head and I realized, oh my god, this is Hurley Falls! So I sat down at my desk right away, re-wrote what I’d written a couple weeks ago, then wrote 14 more pages that I absolutely loved, finished Chapter One and was at it until 8 o’clock last night.  Even though I was sick the whole time. But that was ecstasy. For me, there is nothing finer in the world.

So it’s working out. My life is working out. I still keep certain people’s energies away from me at all costs because I can’t balance them; still happily isolate myself out here in the Hinterlands, but I’m letting a lot of other people off the hook, as well as allowing that for myself, too. And the results I’m seeing, just in my writing, are just exquisite. I am so blessed.

Mob Guys Pt. 2

I’m still in my PJs. My cup of coffee is here on the desk beside me and is still actually piping hot and not old & cold, like it usually is by the time I’m at my blog. I haven’t even done my morning meditation yet; I’m blogging instead. Why? Because life these days just astounds me.

I was so very tired when I crashed last night. For 2 days, I’ve had a sore throat, and I know it’s because I’m trying to process the rape stuff for my memoir without actually screaming anymore.  Instead, you know, just a constant sore throat.

But at 4 AM this morning, yet again, my eyes open. And I’m thinking, this is not the Muse this time. This is just this awful sore throat waking me up. But then suddenly I get the impulse to check my email.

I really did feel like shit and just wanted to roll over, hug my pillow, and try to go back to sleep, but instead, I grab my phone off the night table and start checking my email… And then my heart stops beating. Holy Christ. There’s an email from Facebook alerting me that Mob Guy #2 has sent me a message through Facebook messenger.

How terribly surreal.

Of course, at first I just sort of, you know, freaked out. Too many thoughts at once, the primary one being, But I haven’t written anything about you yet, and all of it was going to be good, I swear!

And then of course the next primary thought was: Oh my god, he’s been reading my blog.

You know, it’s hard to be a public person, to be the kind of writer I’ve been, and to want to write a memoir and be truthful without being hurtful, without short-changing myself, but without, you know, exposing people or just being cruel. I have so many complicated feelings about this memoir and the blog is how I try to sort it all out. You know, how do I feel about being public with all this?

When Neptune & Surf first came out, I had already been writing erotica for over 10 years, but the book was the first time I had ever done anything so high-profile. So “out in the open.” Suddenly, my doorman is reading it. My hairdresser. My accountant. My father. It was one thing to have total strangers read it, at far-flung distances all over the world and, for the most part, respond really well to it. Another, to be the physical woman who wrote it; who is standing right next to you.  Who knows nothing about the private thoughts that are in your head but now you know everything about mine.  It felt exposing, obviously.

But even though I was writing graphically about oral sex and anal sex and handjobs and  sex with pregnant girls on the boardwalk in Coney Island, and BDSM sex among ex-nuns, and brutal explicit gang- bangs, and, yes, a Great Dane named “Pepper.” I was always writing about love. Trying to help my characters find their dignity through love, and, like real life, they also had a lot of sex while doing it.

Readers don’t always see that love in there, though, or that struggle to find dignity. They see the sex and then they put me into whatever category their mind needs to put me in. I’m okay with it now. I’ve been at this for over 3O years.

However, a memoir is just so different. There are no characters to filter my personality through. It’s my life. And, of course, there are other people in it — in my life.  My memoir isn’t meant to be an erotic memoir. But at the same time, most people simply don’t buy my books when they’re not erotic in some way.  You know, I can offer a really well written, 600 page work of literature that took me 10 years to write, and most people still choose to buy a  really, really, really old short story, like “Anal,” for the very same price.

This is not a judgment. It’s only an observation. If you’re a fan of the story “Anal” it’s totally okay with me. I like the story, too. It was the first story of mine that really sort of knocked it out of the park. After the popularity of that story, my work began to get published everywhere. I had no story left unsold. (And, yes!, “Anal” is basically true. That woman was real. We had a blast. We were out of our minds and really jaded. It’s okay if you like reading about it. I had fun living it.)

But a memoir. So many things in my life were not so fun. But mob guy #2 — he was actually a high point. He was 20 years after mob guy #1. I was, of course, married. Cheating. High stakes insanity overtaking my life before my marriage completely died.  But he was a high point, because, among other things, he was level-headed and — unlike me — often deadly serious. “Marilyn, stop yer shit.” He used to say this to me and it would make me so fucking pissed-off.

This morning, 5:30 AM, I sat at the table in my still-dark kitchen, having already read his surreal message sent to me through Facebook Messenger. I drank my first cup of coffee, in the dark, and chuckled. I was shaken but also chuckling. A lot more had come back to me than I’d remembered before reading his message. “Marilyn, stop yer shit.” That came back to me. I was so full of fucking shit back then and not many people thought to tell me to just knock it off. But he did. This morning, I found that kind of funny.  He never, ever took my shit. But he could be nice. And was very considerate of me.

I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to craft Mob Guys Pt. 2, but I knew it was going to focus on the reputation these guys have in the world, and how limiting it is to look at them from only that view. They are notoriously clear-cut about their boundaries, but when you’re not overstepping those boundaries (which can be kind of horrific), they have human hearts.

One of the main things I knew I was going to write about was how this guy was another man, besides my birth father, who was extraordinarily compassionate with me when I told him about what had happened to me back home, the rape, who the guy had been. I felt like he really listened to what I was saying, what I was confiding in him, and he empathized with my pain. I never forgot that afternoon, and this happened almost 20 years ago.

Yet, before I could write word one about it, here comes this message, through Facebook. I hardly ever go on Facebook. But I went on there at 4 AM to check his message. I was shaking, really. Part of it was exhaustion, but the other part was, Oh my god, what did I say? What horrible line have I unknowingly crossed? I haven’t written anything yet!

It was the most beautiful message.

He called me on the carpet for a couple things, mostly that I had been a little demanding for a woman who was cheating on her husband.  But mostly he said a lot of beautiful, emotional things, and he wrote about that afternoon when I finally told him about what had happened to me.

He remembered everything about it. The bed we were in, the apartment we were borrowing, the thing he inadvertently said to me during sex that had started me hyperventilating; then me finally talking about what had happened, him holding me while I cried.

We are talking about one afternoon, almost 20 years ago. And he remembered every detail. He really, really was listening to me. And he never forgot my pain. His message really threw me for quite a loop. But in a really good and unanticipated way.

I tell you, these 4 AM wake-up calls from the Muse — I am, truly, exhausted, gang. But I just feel really, really blessed.

 

“Wild as Jordan”

I rarely talk about those early years when I was a singer/songwriter in New York City. I was actually really good. My songs were in a very folk/country/acoustic rock vein. But I hated the music industry. Despised it. It was sleazy, gross, disgusting, insulting, repugnant and offensive.

(A great song about that era in the music business, before the crash brought on by the Internet, is Tom Petty’s raw & staggering song, Joe  –  video here)

Part of writing my memoirs includes re-recording, with my friend Peitor out in LA, about a dozen of my best songs, ones I wrote between 1981 – 1986.

Need I say that the Muse had me up early again today, at 4:38 AM, this time talking to me about the songs I wrote; suggesting that I revisit them right away?

A few years ago, I’d made a CD of my favorite 4-track analog demos so that I wouldn’t lose track of the songs, but at 4:38 AM this morning, I had no idea where that CD was.  Something –the Muse is my best guess — told me to pull open the top drawer of my night stand, and lo & behold, there it was. Just sitting there.

I looked over the list of the songs that were on the CD and that, alone, felt like a gift. All my favorite songs, some of which I had forgotten about. Including a song I wrote in 1985, called Wild as Jordan.

It had always been one of my favorite songs. It’s a very upbeat, twangy acoustic number; on the surface, about a girl breaking away from a really cold/hard/puritanical man. The chorus is a mixed-metaphor about a fire that rages as wild as the river Jordan; a fire that will burn through all the tears she’s crying.  (The lyrics are below.)

I suddenly realized two things. The first, with a  jolt: that the chorus really reminds me of the gorgeous guy at work. It was almost, like, inescapable, but in a really empowering way. I guess I really, really like that guy.

The other thing I realized, or I should say, “remembered,” was that this was my rape song. I was 25 and I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life being a girl who was screaming inside, and so I took so much rage, took all the fear that crippled me, and tried hard to turn it into something lyrical that could redeem me.

To experience the one rape, at age 14, all isolated and on it’s own, was paralyzing enough. But to then experience a sort of avalanche of rape that I could not get away from, is –what? Debilitating is just a really misleading word.

So many women have told me that they find me courageous, so strong, so tough; women who have known me for a really long time, and not just who have known about my personal insanity, but also what I went through in my career (after I left the music business). (And oddly enough, I found the sex industry to be way less sleazy than the music business was. I guess because in the sex industry, everything was just so plain and out in the open.)  Women who knew, first, what I went through by my just being a woman; next by how I always insisted on a certain level of artistic standards — be they beauty, rage, insight, curiosity, confusion, or even lust — in an industry that people insisted on calling porn, but which I considered the erotic arts.

I had to show up at meetings that were almost always exclusively men who were quite at home within the sex industry, and I had to appear as both a woman who was attractive, pliant, and who would be easy to get along with, and yet a woman you were never, ever, ever going to fuck even if all of life depended on it.

It was a very fine line to draw in the sand — needing those men as my business partners.   That combination of men and sex. And how men behave around women that they objectify as only sex or all about sex. And I certainly was pretty much all about sex, but I wanted to be treated with respect. I had a vision that had a lot to do with God, and the gift of human sexuality, and the beauty of even the confounding aspects of sex as it became art.  Yet, at the same time, there was always that voice in my head reminding me that these were men, and based on my experience of men, that meant they could rape me when I least expected it and I would probably be helpless to stop it.

Still,  by then, I had gotten to a better place in my overall world and was at least no longer ruled by that little voice.

Honestly though, I was so neurotic about it in my early 20s, that every day, I went out into the world, praying that I wouldn’t be raped again before the day was over. If I got into a cab alone (and this was back when 99% of all New York City cab drivers were white New York men, so I wasn’t coming from some xenophobic place), but I would get into a cab and pray that I wouldn’t be driven off somewhere and raped. I gave myself these little pep talks: Well, if he does rape you, eventually the rape will be over and he’ll probably let you get to where you’re going.

Such an insane way to be alive every single damn day. In such a huge city that was, of course, filled to the brim with men.

To think of me as courageous, so strong  or so tough, in my mind is so misleading. It seemed the one and only thing I ever really knew how to do was to get back up.  I knew I would get back up. As a girl (and still today) my heroes had always been men, and they were always men who endured, who got back up.  To me, life seemed to be: “Okay, stop crying now. Get back up.”

The overwhelming physical force of men’s bodies still astounds me.  I’m not a total weakling; I can open a pickle jar and for some reason, I feel really proud of that. Still. How little effort a man can put into tossing you into a wall. Or suddenly grab you by your hair and throw you up the stairs. The terror I have felt over a particular man’s physical force — and in my case, that force was followed by getting forced to fuck; raped really mercilessly. A relentless scenario that I had learned was coming and could do nothing to stop. That kind of physical force is so terrifying.

But, as I said already, a time came when I was so tired of being the girl who was screaming inside. Plus, I really loved sex and I wanted to enjoy it.  The truth was that no one was abusing me anymore.  It got to the point where I was so desperate to reclaim myself, I dealt with my anxiety under a microscope: Here, this minute, I would remind myself, you are not being raped. See how safe and un-raped you are? Moment by moment, freeing myself from that mental prison.

In fact, in order to calm myself down in social situations, where I was always at my most neurotic because society is so unpredictable, I used to make mental lists of all the men who were in my life who hadn’t raped me and weren’t likely to ever rape me. There was no other list. All the men who were in my life were all on the list of men who weren’t raping me. And for me, at least, the huge number of men in the world who weren’t raping me, compared to the tiny percentage who had, meant that the world was mostly a profoundly good place. It helped me turn my whole perspective around.

I even started to find men in my world who wanted to protect me, my birth father was probably the most profound one. I finally got to meet him when I was 28.  Even though I only knew him a brief time before he died, there was never a man who loved me more, or who wished that he could have protected me, or had been there to, I guess, kill the fuckers who had raped me. It was spiritual, but it felt like true vindication for me.

All these things helped to bring me, over time, to a really good place. A present sort of place, where I don’t live in a dark past.

When I heard Wild as Jordan this morning, for the first time in a really long time, all these thoughts came back to me. Who I was, who I was trying to be, and now, who I’ve managed to become — a woman who fought so hard to differentiate between the truly profane and the truly sacred, and, well, won.

And once again, I thought, man, I’ve got the most amazing Muse. To wake me at 4:38 AM just to give me this amazing gift of myself.

Wild as Jordan

The darkest eye a man can know
Is a love born hard in a cold man’s bed
Baptized by fire; 

I’m the darkest eye, I’m the cleanest bone
I can wrap my needs ‘round his aching limbs
Like a dangling wire.

He can’t judge me by the seeds I sow
I see no proof that the Lord resigns from
A coarse desire; 

He can knock me down to my all-time low
But this joy of pain is a waste on me
‘Cause I’m getting so tired. 

CHORUS
But there’s a fire in me
That rages wild as Jordan;
A fire whose flame completes
This fever I deny.
Gonna set that fire 
To the tears that I’ve been crying
And burn clean through into
The hallelujah side. 

There’s a truth that lies in the bitter blow
That a vow sells cheap in the worn out scheme
Of the cards I hold; 

I can risk his pride to retrieve my own
‘Cause the hours I keep are a starless sleep
With a man who’s cold. 

CHORUS
But there’s a fire in me
That rages wild as Jordan;
A fire whose flame completes
This fever I deny.
Gonna set that fire 
To the tears that I’ve been crying
And burn clean through into
The hallelujah side. 

© 1985 Marilyn Jaye Lewis
First of May Songs, BMI

 

Mob Guys Part 1

Back when I first moved to New York City in 1980, the mob was everywhere, all over New York. It was part of the very fabric of the city. I’m speaking right now of the Italian mob. The other ethnic mobs seemed to be connected to certain specific neighborhoods, only. But the Italians pretty much had everything everywhere all sewn up.

When I moved to New York City, I was 20 years old, and except for a handful of weeks where I had lived in a trailer in northern California with a lover who rapidly became my ex-girlfriend, my whole life had been lived in Ohio. There certainly was no World Wide Web, no Internet; only a few people back then even had cable TV.  There was no access to anything global. I knew nothing about the world, nothing about life at all — except that, for most of mine, I hadn’t wanted to be alive or had struggled to stay alive. I didn’t know anything about mob guys and thought they were just something from the 1930s, or from Scorsese movies.

When I left Ohio for New York City it was because I had taken all I could from my horrible life in Ohio. I’m not going to ever get too personal on my blog about the stuff that happened in my family, I struggle with how to even approach it in my memoirs. Not that I can’t face my life, but there is still part of me that protects the abuser. (Or perhaps still lives in fear of the abuser? Probably both.)

But when I finally left for NYC, left Ohio for what I thought would be “for good” but what wound up being about 30 years, it was on the heels of having been raped again because of a situation that was going on within my family. And no one would believe me, listen to me, help me. Nothing. They all blamed me, turned on me, shut me out, crossed me off the list of existence in their own unique ways. It destroyed me.

And so this is the girl I was when I moved to New York. Really just terribly damaged. All I had were my songs, my guitar, you know. It was legal to drink at 18 back then, and I drank bourbon like crazy, did my share of drugs. I knew I didn’t want to be that girl who drank and took drugs, but it took a few more years & some sudden surging health problems to finally get past that kind of self-abuse. My first husband was instrumental, really, in getting me to grow up and to at least get past the drugs — and he remained instrumental even during the years when I had already left him but we were still married. He said things that always pissed me off, but it was only because, in my heart, I always knew that he was right about me and the destructive things I was doing. I was nasty to him a lot, but, in private, I didn’t stop listening to him.

When he and I met, we were both living temporarily in a sort of communal situation in an old brownstone in Brooklyn. He was Chinese, from an affluent family in Singapore. His life could not have been more different from mine. He was so worldly, sophisticated, well-traveled, well-educated. For whatever reason, he was very, very kind to me. He had figured out that I had managed to get myself pregnant. He never came right out and said that he knew, but he approached me in private one evening, around Christmas, and he gave me a very beautiful, tiny ceramic bottle.

“I bought this for you in Chinatown.” I was kind of speechless, I barely knew him. The bottle contained an essential oil. “This is what the girls use in my country when they are in your situation. If you rub a little in your belly-button, it will help keep you from vomiting so much.”

He never, ever asked me one word about that pregnancy, or why a baby never came along. We were married several months later, and were married for 9 years, but he never brought it up. Even though, a couple months into our marriage, he briefly met the man who had been the father.

After I was married and was back in Manhattan with a listed phone number, the man reappeared in my life like a rocket that explodes and then fades into darkness. He was only wanting to take me to dinner and have a talk with me one final time. I was afraid to say no. He pulled up in front of our apartment on the corner of 8th Avenue & W. 45th Street in a chauffeur-driven limousine. In those days, I, literally, barely knew how to take care of myself. My husband took one look at what I was wearing, the condition it was in, and said: “You cannot go out looking like that.” He made me take off my dress and he ironed it for me, and then I got dressed again. When I finally answered the door, the man came in for one moment, the two men met, and then my husband said, “have fun” and we left for an incredibly uncomfortable talk and dinner. (Over Italian food at Johnnies, on W. 44th Street.  We took a limousine, literally, 2 blocks. Me, sitting in absolute silence in the restaurant, surrounded by framed photos all over the walls of mob guys hugging famous people like Sinatra. Him, berating me in a low voice; literally wanting to kill me. “Why did you do that to me? How could you do it?  You killed my baby.” Me: “It wasn’t your baby.” Him: “Shut up. I know how to do math.”)

I had been living in New York maybe 10 whole days, when I had run into him on the street the first time and he immediately invited me to have a drink with him. To be honest, he was smitten on the spot. But he was 20 years older than me. I went with him because he seemed nice and because I did not understand New York City yet, at all, and so I thought, why not?

He took me to a bar on the East Side that seemed straight out of a Scorsese movie. Since I hadn’t yet realized that all those early Scorsese films were pretty much documentaries about Italian men in New York, I just kind of marveled at how this bar felt like it was right out of some movie. And everyone in the bar knew him. They were intense people, unlike any people I had ever met in Ohio. The guy behind the bar, my new friend explained, had been kicked off the police force for being a dirty cop. The woman who came over and said hello to us, with a really big smile, was just “some hooker — don’t fall for her shit.” The men who came over to say hello to him wore beautiful tailored suits, and gold-framed glasses, and these incredible gold watches.

Part of why the man liked me so much was because I was just so different. Fresh from Ohio, even though I was in this really damaged inner place that he didn’t know about. He was damaged, too, for a lot of reasons, I later learned, but the most recent was that his wife, who had suffered 6 miscarriages and had then filed for divorce from him, even though they were Catholic and didn’t believe in divorce, had jumped out the window of their apartment building instead. He was going through a lot of grief.

After one drink, he said, “You wanna come home with me? I just live around the corner.” And I said sure. It was 1980. I had no idea how many times I’d had casual sex already with people I barely knew.

At the time, he was living with his very elderly mother, in her apartment, because he hadn’t been able to stand staying in the apartment he’d shared with his late wife. In his mother’s kitchen, on the wall, was a framed front page from an old copy of the Daily News. The actual front page. Framed and hanging on the wall. It was a photo of his father, dead, having been gunned down in the middle of the street in some sort of mob war hit.

It was so macabre, but I still did not figure out that the guy I was with was in the mob.

Well, I do have to say, that of course we went to bed together, but it was the best sex I had ever had in my life. I had never been to bed with a man that much older than me, for one thing. He knew how to do all kinds of things no one had done to me before. Plus, he really made love to me. He was a man in a lot of grief, and here I was this 20-year-old Ohio girl. I think I was just so far away from anything he knew. So he really made love to me, he wasn’t just getting laid, and I was left kind of breathless.

We became inseparable after that. We made a lot of love. And he was always upfront about wanting to have a baby with me. Right from the start. He said, “Let’s get married. Come on. I want to have a baby with you before I’m too old.”

For some self-abusive reason, I wasn’t practicing anything at all that you could consider birth control. I really wanted to have a baby, I had no objection to the idea of having babies, but I had come to New York to be a singer. I wasn’t looking to suddenly get married and settle down. Still, I didn’t use any kind of birth control at all and I was having the most amazing sex. I got pregnant immediately.

I was secretly thrilled to be pregnant; I so wanted to have children. But I was also very freaked out by it because it wasn’t supposed to happen so suddenly. I had come to New York to be a singer. I wrote songs. I had wanted that to be my life first.

Nevertheless, the man was now in a position to finally be taken seriously by me about getting married.

Up until then, when we were together, we rarely went out in public anywhere. We were always up in his room, in his bed, making love. That was our world. This particular afternoon, when I’m finally becoming amenable to getting married, he takes me out to lunch at a diner around the corner. He has something to explain to me.

“If you’re going to be my wife, I need to teach you how to use a gun. I will always be gone for certain periods of time and I will need to know that you can protect yourself.”

That’s how he started the conversation.  I was stunned, really just speechless. It was all a downhill slide from there. He explained that he was a hitman. That those guys in the bar with those tailored suits and fancy watches paid him to go out in the world and kill people.

I sat across the table from him in the booth and was already carrying his child. I had nothing to say. Nothing. I was in shock. Actual shock.

We went back to his apartment, but at this point I knew I wanted to get away from him as quickly as possible and never look back, but it just wasn’t that simple anymore. I don’t even remember the argument we got into, how it started, but it was ugly, it was loud, it got off the rails very quickly, and what I remember most is his gun right in my face.  A gun I had never seen until that very moment. It was only a warning not to ever raise my voice to him again. He wasn’t planning to kill me that afternoon

After that, I disappeared. Moved to that strange place in Brooklyn, no phone number, no forwarding address. I hid out. I tried to figure out what I was going to do.  My dad and stepmom said they would raise the baby for me, until I could take care of it myself, so that I wouldn’t have to leave New York or give up my dream of being a singer. But that wasn’t the kind of mother I had ever wanted to be. On top of that, I’d been born illegitimate myself. I hated that fact. Most of all, I hated not knowing who my father was.  I didn’t want to repeat all my pain on my baby. And I also really, really didn’t want my baby’s father to be a killer.

Instead, I gave it a mother who was a killer, too, even though it devastated me to do that. I guess I just tossed it on the heap of all the other damage, and tried somehow to survive it, killing my own baby, a baby I had really, really wanted. Getting married helped a whole lot. Getting married to a man with so much dignity who tried so hard to give my life a strong foundation, even though I fought him tooth & nail for pretty much 9 solid years.

After that, I had become a New Yorker. I had my New York stories to tell, the kind of stories all New Yorkers had back then. Harsh, sad, scary, but still way better than being in Ohio.

 

Love — A Universe Full

Not only is this new Muse incredibly inspiring, he seems to be really, really good at keeping my butt planted in my chair; not letting me run away from my desk every 14 seconds to do something really stupid in my never-ending efforts to avoid having to focus on tedious work.

Yes, I finally, finally, finally got all those notes turned in to Peitor in LA re: the adaption of my screenplay, Tell My Bones, into a stage play.

I finally just sat and fucking did it. It took 2 days of typing up bullet points at my desk in my un-air-conditioned bedroom that was over 90 degrees and really humid.

A couple weeks ago, I had read over all my notes from my in-person talks with Helen LaFrance, and I had re-read her private hand-written diaries, that are sometimes difficult to decipher and hard on the eyes. I had highlighted all the things I knew I wanted to remember, but whenever I would sit down to turn all those highlighted passages into a (long) list of bullet points for Peitor, it just felt mind-numbing.

Mostly because I had already done this process once, for myself, when I wrote the initial screenplay.  It took a whole lot of mind power back then to sift through all the moments of her life and create what I felt was a seamless, beautiful story that captured her essence; her life lived. And that script did really well in the important contests, and won in its category in a film festival up in Cleveland. So it is hard to un-think what I already created re: Helen’s life, but the screenplay is just not working at all for the stage.

So I knew I really did have to start from square one, and Peitor had been so selfless in getting up at the crack of dawn, when he was on that vacation in another country, in another time zone, just to help me try to stop floundering with this project. I was embarrassed that it took me so long to complete it and turn it into him.  But I finally emailed him the file around noon yesterday, and, like, a nanosecond later, I got a text from him on my phone: “Got the file. Don’t worry. Projects like this can feel overwhelming. Did it help you to go through this process?” Nothing about: why did it fucking take you so long?

And yes, it truly had helped me. When I read over all the pages & pages & pages of single-spaced bullet points that I had collected for Peitor, I realized that the story of Helen’s life was still wide open. I could come at it from so many ways now. I was free from the boundaries of the original script I had created.

Between my Muse keeping my butt in that chair, and the selflessness of a really dear, long-time friend, I felt just so loved. I really did. And most importantly, I felt really excited about tackling this stage adaptation again.

Then, I took some time to start streaming some episodes of that other TV writer’s work. This was recommended to me by a producer in LA who really loved my CLEVELAND project but is not going to help produce it because he has projects right now that are too similar, both on Broadway and in film. But he recommended this particular show to me from the other TV writer (from about 10 years ago) and said that if I used that construct, the CLEVELAND project  would really pop.

Well, this other TV show is really violent, not something I have the stomach for, but I watched every single moment, every frame,  because I didn’t want to miss what the producer might have meant.  Three-quarters of the way through the first show, bam, it was all right there. I immediately paused it and played the scene again. Wow, This is what he means. I totally, totally got it. When I transposed it in my mind over the brothers in my own show, it suddenly made everything really intense and the characters came even more alive.

Of course, this means I have to re-write the pilot yet again, and then tweak the show bible, yet again, but if I can nail this tone and this dynamic, the show is going to be incredible.

And I really was just overwhelmed by how considerate that producer was, a man who doesn’t know me at all, only “knows me” by  my writing from having read the project; a man who is not going to produce it because he doesn’t have the time,  but who took the time to figure out what would put the script over the top and then wrote and told me what to do (and added let’s get coffee when you’re back in LA).  No way on earth did he have to take the time to do that.  I was grateful when he wrote to me with that input, but then, after seeing the show, I was positively floored by how precisely he had nailed it.

So many producers have been interested in this project, gang. So many.  I think I first wrote it in 2013. And yet so few have taken the time to come up with any kind of a vision for it, to help put it across. Certainly Bohemia Group has. It took me a year of revisions, but they helped me create an incredible script that quickly became too expensive for them to make on their own. Which is why we’re looking for other producers with access to larger budgets. But when you want access to a larger budget, the concept itself has to then become a little bit larger.

When I first wrote the pilot, I sent it to a producer in LA. I mailed him a hard copy to his office. I didn’t know him, he didn’t know me. He called me the minute he read it and said, This is great. Thank you for sending it to me. Really. But then he also said that his agent wouldn’t let him produce it because I was unknown in that business and no way, no how, do I have it in me to be a showrunner. But he invited me to come out to LA so that he could introduce me to some other producers, who weren’t quite as successful as he was, who didn’t have as much at stake, but who needed good projects.

So I went out there. And it was awesome, the response my project got. But what sticks with me so clearly is driving with that producer in his really expensive convertible on the LA freeway, the top down, a beautiful evening is on its way; he has his expensive sunglasses on; his expensive gold watch. He has been the head of several top movie and TV studios in the course of his career, has been a producer since before I was born. He’s happily married and doesn’t have a sleazy bone in his body. He looked over at me while he was driving and he said, “You are a really good writer, Marilyn. You know that, right?”

Sometimes I do.

Nowadays, I look around at this crazy  really old house that I love, at this crazy really old town that I love, and I think to myself, I’d better be a really good writer because nothing is selling and I’m flat broke now and I just bought a house…

And of course the trip to my dad’s didn’t help.  Over lunch, I said, “I know I owe you money, Dad. I want you to know I haven’t forgotten. I just don’t have it right now.”  But, inside myself, secretly, I know I’m broke now, but I’m also super-duper happy because for some inexplicable reason I now have an incredible Muse who’s knocking it out of the park. I have a cellphone full of notes about my own life that are just too beautiful.

My dad looked at me across the table, sort of expressionless because he knows full well I owe him money and he knows full well I don’t have it. “What are you going to do if you get sick? You’ll lose everything.”

Jesus. Thanks for that head’s up.  “I’m not going to get sick, Dad. I’m really, really healthy. And I’m really happy right now.”

“But you’re not selling anything. You’re not making any money.” No, not yet, I’m not.

But I come back home to my crazy old beautiful house and the Muse is waiting for me — I can literally feel his energy in my room. He’s been sort of just going over the extensive notes of my life while I was gone.  He says, “You know, you’re kind of a lucky duckster yourself. You have had sex with some very pretty girls in your lifetime; you know that? Some very pretty girls.”

Yeah, I do know that. And I wrote about them, and those stories sold really well. Keep on selling, in fact. All over the world.

And then I suddenly remember a very pretty girl that I had sex with — in my dad’s house. I had completely forgotten about that. Blocked it out, more likely. We got caught. Up in the guest room. While I was “just visiting.”  “This is how you respect me? You do something like this under my roof?” Me: “No, Dad. I wasn’t thinking.” Him: “Are you some kind of lesbian?” (Back then, he could barely get this word out because he despised gays.) Me: “No, Dad, I’m not a lesbian. She’s just my girlfriend.”

And, it’s of course, remarks like this coming out of my mouth that have always short-circuited my dad’s brain because they simply do not make sense to him. He wasn’t able to understand how a girl could have sex with girls and not be a lesbian. At my wedding to Wayne, after having barely spoken to me for years, my dad comes to me and says, “I’m really surprised you’re marrying a man, Marilyn. I thought you were a lesbian.”  Me, in my super femme, Cinderella wedding gown, having to say at my own wedding, “Dad, I’m not a lesbian.” (And of course, Wayne standing right there, wishing it were that simple — me, and all those girls, and me not a lesbian; me being more things than even he can possibly manage, and he still said, “I do.”)

That time, though, my dad, dressed in a very expensive suit, had a look on his face like he was really, really, really trying to understand me. On my wedding day.

I’ve spent a lifetime trying to understand me, so I know how it feels. I woke this morning, again at 4:20 AM, and the Muse was there. The morning was dark, quiet, exquisite. And I thought with relief that I’d finally turned in my notes, that I’d finally made time to start streaming that other writer’s TV show. And I remembered how charitable everyone is with me, and I saw love everywhere.

This is a new feeling for me, gang. I had been in a very loveless place for such a long time — it had felt like for my whole life and it probably was. I fought so hard to survive it, to rise above so much abuse. And I did rise above it, but I had no idea how to love.

I cried a little then, because I was angry at myself for letting so many dead years slip by me. I am almost 60 years old. But the Muse was right there. Don’t cry about it.  Lives like yours can feel overwhelming. Do you think it helped you to go through this process?

And I was smiling again. Feeling so much love. It sure fucking did. Then I turned on some music. A little Tom Petty, as is my habit these days. Life is so good, gang.

 

 

4 hours of sleep, 10 pounds lighter

It probably seems like I’m not even a writer anymore, based on the intensity of these endless blog posts lately.  But, sadly, such is not the case. I am not only deranged in my private life, I’m going into overdrive in the writing area, as well, and not really understanding the direction the Muse is trying to take me in.

In order to fool my colleagues into thinking I am still sane and productive, today I am going to force myself to finish typing up a truckload of notes for the stage version of Tell My Bones and send them off to LA. I also have some research to do re: my CLEVELAND TV pilot and I am going to force myself sometime this week to get on top of all that research (requires streaming/studying the work of another TV writer).  Even though it depresses me that the project hasn’t sold yet, the feedback I am getting from producers re: just me as a writer has been staggering and I don’t want to lose that momentum, even if I can’t sell the darn show.

But meanwhile, the Muse seems to be pushing me toward finally writing — my memoirs. What the fuck? Where is this coming from, right now, all of a sudden? And what about the Hurley Falls Murder Mystery I was so excited about???

Loyal readers of this lofty blog no doubt recall that this time last summer, the publishers of SomethingDark said that they wanted to publish my memoirs. “How much do you have now? What can we see?” Me: “I’m back to just making notes, but I will get right on it.”

Real loyal readers of this lofty blog no doubt recall that back in, like 2012, SomethingDark said they wanted to publish my memoirs…. But I just didn’t like the voice of what I’d written back then. I wanted to find another way in. My life has been kinda dark, you know, and I didn’t want readers to set down my memoirs halfway through Chapter One to go shoot themselves in the head in order to make the pictures of my misguided life just stop coming… I was aiming for something a little cheerier than that.

Well, as most of you know, through some amazing blessing, through some miracle of benevolence, the Muse came back into my life a few weeks ago, and this one is unlike any true Muse I’ve ever had before. This one is just amazing, folks. The most amazing energy that has contacted me, ever.  And he doesn’t seem to be leaving, even though, every morning when he rips me from sleep (this morning, it was after only 4 hours of sleep), and is already filling me with so many lovely, bittersweet, painful, beautiful images that I try like heck to type into my cellphone in some sort of coherent manner after so little sleep; even while he does this every morning, clearly not leaving, I still find myself begging him, Oh my god, please don’t leave me, don’t leave me, don’t leave me.

I don’t want to go back to that dead zone of having no Muse. It dragged on for about 5 years, maybe more. I lose track. But it’s a dead zone, gang.  Even though I am completely crazy now — horny as hell, surviving on 4 or 5 hours of sleep every night when I always used to sleep for 7, like “clockwork”. And I’m barely eating. I’ve lost 10 pounds since the Muse came only a few weeks ago. I’m half-starved all the time but I can’t make myself sit down and eat. Food seems like it takes too much time, drains too much needed imagination. On Sundays, when I’m not in some sort of masturbatory frenzy in my room, I drive into town and buy groceries, and I’m noticing that the grocery bill is getting lower & lower & lower. This past Sunday, I spent $50 on a week’s worth of groceries for me and 8 cats. Now, that is ridiculous. But when I came home and unpacked the groceries to put them away, I discovered that most of the same items I’d bought the week before were still in the fridge, and now I had duplicates of food I would barely eat.

Yes, it’s a little alarming. But when I read over all those notes on my cellphone and see how incredible they are, I no longer care if I’m crazy. Although, this morning, I did read over a hurried note I’d scribbled on a torn corner of paper that I’d stuck under my laptop as I was rushing out the door yesterday, and it said:  Requires a lapsed Catholic. Cleansing of sexual punishment. Sadism of redemption. Trust me; it made sense to me when I scribbled it down, when I was trying to capture something really beautiful about my years of being lovers with Valerie. I took one look at that note and shook my head: Crap. SomethingDark is the only publisher left on earth who would touch a memoir like this.

And then my Dad’s voice from last week is in my ear: “You’re not selling anything. You’re not making any money.” And a memoir like that is definitely not going to make me any money, and yet, gang. And yet. The Muse still says: Write it. (Heck, even Valerie says, write it.)

Yesterday, driving into work after having had a long, trying, argumentative day with Jesus, I was listening over & over to Sins of My Youth by Tom Petty on the car’s CD player. Such a haunting song. It cuts into my core, and now it only makes me think about the gorgeous guy from work, the guy I was arguing about with Jesus nonstop for about 24 hours straight. Because not only do I want to fuck this non-single guy, I also just really want to talk to him.  And even that seems to be out of bounds. But I really, really want to know who he is now because I know I knew him before, as in: in another life. I want to know who he is this time around; who he came into this world being. He’s a scary man, in that he is so different from me. His mind goes to places that my mind doesn’t go to.  But he’s also very kind. And I just want to talk. (And other stuff.)

But meanwhile, Jesus is on some sort of tape loop in my head about the betrayal of trust, and do unto others, and setting an appropriate example… Yadda yadda yadda.  And Tom Petty is on another type of tape loop, saying, “You say you love me/ wish you liked me more; I’m no angel, that’s for sure; Said you forgave me each time I was caught, but you still paint me as something I’m not.” By the time I was getting out of my car, tears were coming out of my eyes. I just want what I want, damn it; and I want to have it. I want to smoke again and drink and not care about anything or anyone else at all except getting what I want.

As I was walking toward the backdoor that goes into the inn, the gorgeous guy is just sitting right there, smoking. Oh no. And I notice a voicemail on my cell phone. What’s this? When did this come in? And it’s one of the Mormon elders, saying, “Marilyn, we’re expecting you at dinner on Sunday. Can you just confirm?”

Now Jesus is sending in the Mormons at the final hour, to try to keep me from opening my mouth to this guy about wanting to fuck him even though I know he’s not single.  The very guy who’s now sitting right in front of me. Unfortunately, the Mormons are people who respect my integrity. What they can see of it, anyway. And the voice message sort of squishes me back into “good behavior” mode. And I really was crying then, not in an overtly sobbing kind of way but the tears were there. I know I don’t want to go back to being that person I used to be. I do care about people and the quality of their lives. And smoking and drinking is just smoking and drinking.

But the gorgeous guy looked at me and said, “Marilyn, are you okay?” Me: “oh yeah. I’m good,” I can barely reply.

And then I walk right into my work area and there’s a new guy at work. A very, very pretty boy. Sort of like a blueprint for a vacuous surfer boy. And he looks at me. He looks again. And then won’t stop looking at me throughout the entire shift. I can tell he thinks I’m a silver cougar and that sex is right around the corner. And I’m not looking away, but only because I’m curious how far he’s going to take this.

I’m not a cougar. I’m not looking for a boytoy, not even for an hour. And I know that if the vacuous pretty boy surfer ever had sex with me, he wouldn’t know what hit him. I don’t just have baggage in the bedroom, gang, I have really fine, hand-sewn luggage, piles of it, enough to sustain me for a year-long, sea-faring voyage. That’s what sex with me is like. You have to get a notarized document that says you agree to all the potential dangers of boarding this ship before you can even come onboard for a drink.

But the gorgeous guy? For Christ’s sake. I know he would board the ship, saying, “This is the map for the route we’re going to take on the year-long sea voyage. And these are the knives I’m bringing. Careful, Marilyn, they’re sharp.”

Jesus working overtime

The saga of the gorgeous guy at work continues. Only now what’s happening is that I keep getting ridiculously close to saying something indescribably inappropriate, and trying to keep my mouth shut is wearing me out. I’m exhausted.

Not to mention that Jesus is seriously kicking my butt — that’s wearing me out, too.

I woke up at 5 AM and before my eyes were even open, the very first thought in my head was: God, I really, really want to fuck that guy from work. And Jesus was already right there. “Remember those textbooks from your final year in Divinity School? The ones with titles like: Ministerial Ethics: Moral Formation for Church Leaders, and Betrayal of Trust: Confronting and Preventing Clergy Sexual Misconduct?”

Crap.

Lust sometimes makes me forget that I’m a minister. I do have the black shirt with the white collar, but if you’re not getting married or buried, there’s no reason whatsoever for me to wear it. And I don’t have any sort of a church building surrounding me. And Lord knows, I wasn’t given a congregational flock to tend to — Jesus saw right away where that was going to go (i.e., nowhere fast), so without these things to alert  people that I’m a minister and that my behavior should be held to a higher standard 24/7, it’s easy for me to wander unobserved down a bunch of dark alleys and succumb to the allure of my darker side.

Obviously, if the gorgeous guy were single, none of this would be bothering me at all. I’m allowed to have sex. But he’s not single. And, even though I rarely come on to a guy sexually, when I have, they have never said no, even when they weren’t single. I have an uncanny track record. And it’s not because I’m so alluring, gang. It’s because I have a killer vocabulary that practically requires a concealed carry permit. Even if you only have a drop of testosterone left in your body, I know the words that will find it in a hurry. And that’s because I was a very effective erotica writer for over 20 years.  Language is an incredibly manipulative thing. I try never to play that card. With or without Jesus. But the fact is that Jesus is always along for the ride now.

A few years ago, when I was extremely close to moving back to New York, I reconnected with an old flame who still lives back there, who now lives in the town I was planning to move to; a chef who owns a popular restaurant there.  We reconnected because his mom had died and he needed spiritual help, especially from someone like me who understood his complicated emotional entanglements with his mom who had been a famous jazz singer who was never home, never emotionally available to him.

I don’t usually fall in love with people. I do love people deeply, but I don’t usually “fall in love.” This man, though, was one of those rare guys that I fell in love with at first sight, when I was 27 years old, and never really fell out of love with.  But he’s a loner, in the truest sense of the word; the song Desperado was written for a man just like him. And even though, 30-some years ago, he wanted to have a baby with me — something I really, really wanted — I knew he would just never, ever be around for that kid. Loners are loners are loners.

After we were talking for a year re: his mom’s death and the things he was forcing himself to see about who she’d been, I did go out to see him. For a year, I was really careful not to let myself fall in love with him again, even though it was all still right there, all those feelings. But our re-connection wasn’t about distracting him with sex — he already knew how to do that really, really well. It was about helping him focus on other issues that were really painful for him.

He is really good looking in a very hard & bony sort of way; slim and tall. He lives above his restaurant. Being (an incredibly good) chef is his whole life, his world. After the place was closed for the night, we were alone in the restaurant’s kitchen because he wanted to grab something from the walk-in and take it to his kitchen upstairs. I stood there and waited, looking at all his grills, the layout of his professional kitchen that he had designed with such care. And suddenly he was standing right behind me, pressing himself right up against me, his arms came around me and his voice was in my ear. “You wanna stay over?”

In a nanosecond, it was all back, all the feelings. I melted into those arms of his. He was always so erotic to me. I sure fucking do wanna stay over. I forgot about everything else.

We were upstairs in his bedroom, both of us pushing 60 and we haven’t been together since we were 30 years old. But it was like no time whatsoever had passed. We fell onto his king-sized bed — and here comes Jesus, working overtime for me again. And Jesus is, like: “Girlfriend, what do you think you’re doing?”

Well, I’m naked; he’s naked. I’m wet, he’s erect. It’s looking obvious to me. You can figure it out, right?

“This is not what you signed up for; not what I called you to do. You came here in my name; do you really want to play this card?”

And of course, I didn’t. I didn’t go through with it. In a really unexpected move — his penis was literally just starting to go in me — I called it off. “This isn’t right.”

He was exasperated. He flopped down next to me on his side of the bed, stared out the huge open windows at the night sky. “Marilyn, you always did think too much.”

So Jesus is working overtime for me again. Because of this guy at work. Because all I think about these days is fucking that guy at work and I know that fucking him would be off the charts. Plain vanilla sex, super kinky sex, any combination there of, would be, well, a really successful erotic encounter. I can just tell. I’ve been around, for godssakes.

Last night was one of those nights where we were both at work and where what he was doing required that he was basically standing right next to me for the whole shift. And by now, I’m so out of my mind with lust for him that I can barely function.  At one point, I looked up at him and was literally going to say: “Anytime, dude. Anything you want to do to me — anything at all — I’m not gonna say no.” And at that crucial moment, Jesus pushed a jumble of other words out of my mouth instead. I have no idea what I wound up saying, but it was completely meaningless, I know that.

And then Jesus said to me, “You tell me where, in all the hundreds of gospels written about me, whether they’re canonical gospels or lost and secret gospels that have been hidden away in caves for thousands of years — you tell me where it says that I ever taught that it was okay to tempt somebody to betray a trust.”

Crap.

So, through a literal miracle, I kept my mouth shut. I don’t know how I did it.

Later in the evening, at the end of the shift, I sat outside with a group of co-workers and I watched him smoke a cigarette. He is so darned sexy, even when he’s just sitting there, smoking. And once more, I was thinking: Dude, fucking you would be off the charts. And, of course, he looked right at me. And I tried like hell to just look away.

The world of author Marilyn Jaye Lewis