The Robin

A few days ago, I posted here about a robin building her nest in the huge old maple tree outside my bedroom windows.

Here are 2 photos. One, a long view — you can see the houses along Basin Street and the hills in the background (also note, once again, how extremely close the front of my house is to the railroad tracks!):

The robin in her nest, just below the cable line running through the branches…

And now a close-up of the robin!

I try not to make her paranoid, but I do look at her all the time!

Born again, again!

I have finally settled in enough in the new house to get down to a daily writing schedule. It feels incredible. Not just the “writing again” part, but having ready access to everything I’ve ever written, published and unpublished, throughout the course of my career.

And not just my fiction, but also dream notebooks I kept over the years, where I kept track of my dreams at night, and spiral bound notebooks filled with song lyrics I wrote over 30 years ago (for those new to my blog, I was a singer/songwriter in NYC in the late 1970s into the early 1990s, when I switched to fiction-writing, exclusively).

I mentioned in a previous post, that even though all my “stuff” was in storage for about 2 years, it’s really been closer to 15 years that I not only had ready access to all my stuff, but was in the frame of mind to relate to it all. These many years that I’ve been back in Ohio have not been happy ones for me, and I had often deeply regretted moving back here.  I had really come to feel like one of the walking dead, but without the zombie-like features. ha ha.

But, first, the move into the Hinterlands in 2016, into a rental house, followed by a move deeper into the Hinterlands and into a new (really old) house that I bought this past March, has made me finally feel alive again.

I’ve titled this post “Born again, again” because in the space of 12 months (2016-2017), I nearly died 3 times (car accident, lightning, accidental overdose of aspirin). My life was so unhappy during that whole era, that, spiritually, I could have easily chosen to just die and move on to the next plateau. But I didn’t. I constantly fought to stick around. To stick it out. (And long-time readers know that my teen years were filled with awfulness: 2 rapes, constant abuse, drug & alcohol problems, confinement to a mental hospital, arrests, tragic deaths of people I loved. I survived 2 suicide attempts in those years and it was because, again, even though life felt unbearable, I really wanted to stick it out until it could finally get good.)

So now, when I wake up in the morning, in love with life, with my house, with my new tiny town in the middle of lovely nowhere, I truly mean it: I am happy.

Here’s a shot of my kitchen table from a few minutes ago. It feels so great to be able to really spread my work out again. It’s been since the days on E. 12th Street, in NYC (over 30 years ago), that I’ve had a kitchen big enough to have a kitchen table I could really spread out at while I worked:

Working on the stage adaptation of my Helen LaFrance script

I was going through an old dream notebook from 1986 this afternoon (I’ve recently started keeping track of my dreams again) and a poem I wrote about James Dean was stuck in there.

It was typed on my old IBM typewriter. It had some pencil marks, where I had edited it. And there was still tape on the corners of the paper, where I had taped it to my bedroom wall (I often did that with poems back then that I wanted to look at , study, and then revise). I had completely forgotten having ever written a poem about James Dean, although I did really used to adore him.

For readers too young to know who James Dean was, he was a movie star in the 1950s, who died really young. He was from a small town in Indiana, and went to NYC to study acting. He appeared in early TV shows, some stage work, but then went out to L.A. and became famous almost overnight. He only made 3 movies before he died tragically in a car accident in northern California. And his third movie, Giant, wasn’t even released until after he died. He was buried back home in Indiana, close to his family. His casket was shipped back home on a train. He was a guy who always wanted to be really, really famous, and I often thought that if he hadn’t died so young, on the precipice of real fame, he would not have become a Hollywood Legend. Meaning, that spiritually, dying young and tragically was part of the whole “legendary fame” package, which I believe that on some level, he subscribed to hook, line & sinker.

Here’s  a still of James Dean in his final movie, Giant (a terrific movie about racism, btw, that you must see if you haven’t already), followed by my newly re-discovered poem!

James Dean on the set of Giant, 1955
JAMES DEAN'S PLAN
I went to L.A. to die,
not in one grand leap, mind you, but in frames.
I knew I could muster
the sullenness,
make the necessary toss of
a cigarette butt
and the careless flash of a
shy smile.
Then I'd arc my life
up the Northern Coast
in a dashing trajectory of vision;
collide with
my tragic partner
in a slow-motion splatter
to timelessness,
then resume a more somber
parade
with my pine box shipped east, marked
Indiana's Own
but my ticket stamped
Hollywood's Heaven.
--MJL 1987

Great Days!

Things are just moving along swimmingly, as they say!

I’m basically done with the inside of the new house, for now. Except for the upstairs bathroom, which is a decorator’s nightmare. It looks as if a 10-year-old was given free-rein in expressing his or her devotion to Mickey Mouse, literally.

But other than the upstairs bathroom, which needs a re-do from top to bottom, I’m happy with the inside of the house and will turn my focus to the outside, as soon as the weather gets nice and stays nice (i.e., we’re still getting occasional days of snow!).

I just bought this for my family room:

It is called a: “Baxton Studio Sorrento Mid-Century Retro Modern Faux Leather Upholstered Wooden Lounge Chair, Brown”.

However, I call it, simply, my new chair. I love my new chair!!! It is the final thing I’m buying, for now. But this means people can come visit and not have to sit side-by-side on the sofa, or sit at the kitchen table. (It’s exciting, isn’t it? Imagine — coming to visit me! You would be sitting in that luxurious Baxton Studio Sorrento Mid-Century Retro Modern Faux Leather Upholstered Wooden Lounge Chair, Brown!!!! Yay!! And the conversation alone would no doubt be intoxicating!)

Another cool thing that’s going on out here in my humble abode in the Hinterlands is that a robin is building her nest in the enormous old maple tree outside my bedroom window.  Most of the windows in this house are really long — 65 inches long, in fact. And that’s just the window itself, it doesn’t count the window casing, window sill, etc. Anyway, I can lay in my bed and easily watch her build her nest.  (It still amazes me, just how good they are at building nests.)

The other cool thing is that we have a new logline for the Cleveland’s Burning TV Pilot. It goes like this:

[Short version]:  Two African American brothers, raised in the church, choose different paths in pursuit of racial and social equality in 1960’s Cleveland.

[Slightly longer version]: Two African American brothers, raised in the church, choose different paths in pursuit of racial and social equality in 1960’s Cleveland: one, the nonviolent philosophies of Dr. King, and the younger, the ideology of the more radical Black Power movement.

And speaking of the church…in the evening on Easter Sunday, two really delightful young Mormon missionaries came by — 2 young women, which surprised me because Mormon women never used to travel and do mission work without men. They were so sweet and it was Easter, so of course I invited them in. We sat at the kitchen table and discussed their gospel of Jesus Christ for over an hour. Frankly, it was fascinating. And I enjoyed every minute of their conversation. It was a really nice way to spend an otherwise uneventful Easter (which is usually a very important holiday for me).

All righty.

I hope you have a terrific weekend planned, wherever you are in the world! I plan on spending it visualizing all the exciting people who will be coming to visit me in the Hinterlands and sitting in my brand new Baxton Studio Sorrento Mid-Century Retro Modern Faux Leather Upholstered Wooden Lounge Chair, Brown!

And this means YOU! Yippee ki yi yay!

Don’t worry, if you’re Mormon, I won’t serve the Cokes!

Okay! See ya!

 

Whew!

I think I am finally, finally, FINALLY present and accounted for. Alive again in my own life. Home at last.  I slept for 9 and a half hours last night — uninterrupted except for the very nearby passing of a railroad train (see photo somewhere below that shows just how close the train tracks are to my new house). I never sleep for more than about 7 hours, so getting so much uninterrupted sleep was kind of shocking to me, but in a good way.

And I had these really great, vivid, active dreams about — guess what? — moving into a new house that had tons of windows! I can’t remember the last time (or if ever) I had a dream that was not only happy but that also reflected the actual life I was currently living.  How do you process that? Dreaming happy, then waking up happy, then remembering I had a happy dream, and then realizing, oh, that’s just like my life right now!  Like, did I die and I haven’t yet figured out that I died? I guess time will tell!

Oh, and by the way, “happy” Good Friday to one and all. (Speaking of dying and continuing to consciously live on while dead…)

Anyway, it’s been a bit of a week. Before I went into contract on this house that I ended up buying, some other people were under contract to buy the house but their mortgage was declined. However, before their mortgage was declined, they set about making improvements to the house — wiring and plumbing. But when the mortgage was declined, they dropped everything and simply walked away, leaving things half-done.

When I had the house inspected, the inspector told me some wiring upgrades had been made but that I would need an electrician to come in and add a new line. Well, I’m actually intelligent, and I also have a killer vocabulary, which adds to the overall aura of my presumed intelligence, but to be brutally honest, most of the time I wander around in a partial dream-state, thinking about everything under the sun except for what’s right in front of me, and the things people are saying directly to me go mostly unregistered in my brain, even while I nod my head and say, “sure, okay.”

So, imagine my surprise when it became suddenly clear that my kitchen was a wiring nightmare and a serious fire hazard. Things were turning off & on by themselves; outlets were melting. And then, wafting up into my conscious awareness comes: Ah, so this is what he meant by get an electrician in here.

Hence, the electricians came for many hours. It wasn’t too terribly expensive, and they fixed everything and I was content, and then the following morning, a bright orange emergency tag appeared on my kitchen door that said that my water meter was going in reverse and needed fixing as soon as possible. (“Did anyone come in here and do some plumbing, ma’am? They put this line on backwards!”)

Ah, well, that was fixed, too.  And speaking of the railroad train (above)…

I wonder if I’m ever going to get tired of the excitement of the train rushing by? It goes by about once a day, and a few nights a week. (And by “night” I mean 3 o’clock in the morning.)  First, it’s the “ding ding ding ding” of the gates lowering while the red lights start flashing; then the train whistle starts screaming in the distance and I can feel the rushing rumble coming  my way. This is when the cats scurry and hide, whereas I rush to one of my many windows in anticipation of that monster train coming into view and then hurtling past.

Awesome, in an otherwise serene and quiet town.

Oh, but here’s another thing I love. The guy next door (married with very young children) has a rock band and they occasionally practice out in his garage.  It’s down at the end of the backyard, out on the alley, next to where my horse & buggy barn is. The sound is not deafening, but I can certainly hear it. Some sort of death-metal type tempo. And while death-metal wouldn’t be listed up there as a favorite musical genre of mine, as someone who was a professional musician/singer/songwriter for a really long time,  the sound of that band practicing in the garage always brings a smile to my face.  While everything imaginable in my own personal life has changed, in other outer, outside world ways, nothing changes. And that is comforting.

So. I had a conference call with Sandra yesterday and now we must get back on track. Rehearsals for the staged reading (in NYC) of the one-woman musical The Guide to being Fabulous begin on April 14th in Rhinebeck, NY.  The staged reading is for production funds for mounting the show Off-Broadway at (if I may say so myself) a really prestigious Off-Broadway venue in midtown. So it is very exciting, folks.

I will only be needed for tweeks and minor re-writes, so I won’t have to attend most of the rehearsals, so I have to buckle down and use this time for finishing the stage adaptation of my Helen LaFrance script, Tell My Bones (also for Sandra).  It’s good to feel that urgency; it gives me focus.  And that is what this move to this new house was all about: A place to get really settled; to call home; to sit in peaceful solitude and write (with the occasional train and rock band spiking my consciousness!)

All right. Enjoy Good Friday, wherever you are, gang. Remember, Good Friday is a reminder that all of life is re-born, it never dies, we’re all sacred, eternal, joyful beings, created as we are creating. What could be better than that? Okay!

Thanks for visiting, gang! See ya!

This old barn is just down the road a piece, but it’s been enhanced here by photoshop. The Mail Pouch logo is really, really faded now.

I’m Unpacked!

Yay! For the first time in about 2 years, I have access to all my books, my movies, my music, my clothes, my dishes, my art. You name it! It if belongs to me, I can now see it again.

In my many years of being in limbo (loyal readers of this lofty blog will no doubt recall that for the past 6 years or so, I was planning on moving back to New York. So, even while my possessions were only in storage for about 2 years, my whole life has been in limbo for longer than that). Anyway.

I noticed while I was living in that rented house, without access to 95% of my stuff, that I was in fact able to survive without 95% of my stuff… I contemplated renting a dumpster and throwing it all away, sight unseen. Lightening the load of my life, my past, what have you. If I could survive without it, did I really need it?

Yet, now that I’m in this really wonderful old house with its wonderful old barn out back, in this indescribably tiny village that has been here for over 200 years and which most people have never ever heard of; and now that all my stuff is unpacked, I realized how much I now enjoy having my identity back! OMG! I’m so glad I didn’t throw it away. All my books. My records and CDs, my collection of movies. Photos , mementos. All these things I love have now been sort of returned to my identity. And I feel like I’ve returned to myself. Like I’m finally really home since leaving New York.

When I moved from New York City, and also when I was planning on moving back there, I did indeed throw away a lot of stuff and gave a ton of stuff to various charities. I didn’t just simply hang on to everything. And the outcome of that is that what I did save over the years were things that I didn’t want to part with, regardless of the lack of storage space in some of the places where I’ve lived. So it really was an “OMG” moment (or many moments,) as I was unpacking box after box after box of things I hadn’t seen in such a long time. So many things that I really loved, that added to who I became throughout my (seemingly endless) long, long life.

I’m also exhausted. But starting Monday, I must get back into my daily writing routine. (Which, I’m hoping, might actually feel good! We shall see!) As loyal readers know, I am way behind schedule in completing a ton of projects.  But now all I have left is the rest of my life to just sort of create in. (And while I’m perfectly happy to live here alone, I am also hoping that people will come visit so that I can entertain again. My dining room is so pretty. It feels straight out of 1918 or something like that…)

Also, the cats have adjusted beautifully to their new home. They really seem frisky and happy and totally cool with their new surroundings.

In honor of having all my music back in my life, I bought a really cool Crosley entertainment thingy. It plays records, CDs, cassettes, has an AM/FM radio, and a bluetooth adapter.

It looks like this. It’s too freakin’ pretty!

It’s on a stand that looks like this:

Put them both together, and it is just like living in yesteryear. All righty!

So, have a happy Saturday, wherever you are in the world! Thanks for visiting, gang! See ya!

 

Happy St. Paddy’s Day from the Hinterlands!

Yes! I am all moved in! Only need another 6 months to complete the unpacking…

I’m exhausted, gang, but I couldn’t be happier with my new (extremely old) house! And I am so excited that I decided not to have the garage/barn/shed thingy torn down (see post below somewhere that has photos). My guy-friend came out on Wednesday to take measurements for the new roof and it was the first time I actually went inside the old building and it was indeed a barn at one point. In fact, it was built (in 1910) as a horse-drawn buggy barn. One half of the “garage” was the horse’s stall, and the other side, which we plan on turning into a gardening shed, was where the buggy was stored. Right down the middle, is a wall with one of those half-doors in it for feeding the horse.

Like this, only 108 years older…

It is SO COOL! And it was so well constructed. The roof needs replacing because an enormous maple tree fell on it, but the actual building sustained no damage at all.  It is just too cool. I can’t wait until it’s fixed up. I will regale you with photos!

The village is great. It is TINY. The church (according to google maps) is 417 feet away from my new house –yes, I can easily see it. Yes, it’s that close. The church has been active for 200 years! And they still ring their church bells on Sunday mornings. (I’m guessing they will also ring on Christmas Day!)

Between the train going by, and the church bells ringing, and the birds, the trees, the rolling hills on the far horizon, and the BAZILLION stars at night, I simply could not be happier.

Unfortunately, I still have a ton of unpacking to do, so I can’t tarry here on the blog. But I do want to mention that not only is it St. Paddy’s Day today, but also the birthday of my many cats!! The three parents are 7, and the “kittens” are 6 years young today.

Happy birthday to my many cats!!

They all survived the traumatic move. I am so glad that part is over, gang. It’s horrible, trying to relocate a colony of semi-feral cats. I could not have accomplished it without my good & patient (and very much scratched and gouged) friend, Diane. But it’s done and now we can stay put for a really long time. (And, as I predicted, the cats LOVE the 22 windows in this old house!!)

Okay. Gotta scoot. Thanks for visiting, folks. Have a really fun (and safe — for instance, don’t drink & drive because I can NOT afford to post your bail!!) St. Paddy’s Day, wherever you are. See ya!

The Thrill of it All!

Now, refresh my memory, gang; is there anything on earth more exhilarating than packing up to move to a new house??? (Please. Don’t say “bungee jumping”. Let’s keep this in the realm of things I’m actually likely to do.)

The thrill of packing!

Even though I hate packing, this time is not quite as mind-bogglingly tedious  as other times since I never really unpacked from the last move, a year and a half ago. I only need to pack dishes, clothes, sheets & towels, some books, and the medicine cabinet stuff.

However. Lest we forget…

6 of the 8 critters who travel with me!

…I live with 8 semi-feral cats who basically refuse to be touched and/or get into their cages, regardless of the imperativeness of the circumstances! [Note to readers: Do not use “imperativeness” while conversing at dinner parties or at other socially crucial events because it is not really a word and you will likely be laughed at and humiliated! — Ed.]

Anyway, all is actually going pretty smoothly with the moving arrangements, except for the stress of knowing I have to move these 8 little creatures. I brought the 8 cages out of storage and set them around the living room, to help them at least get used to the sight of them, and a couple of the cats are so scared of the cages that they won’t come out from under the recliner… The last move was truly traumatizing for all of us.

But we’ve still got 10 days! 10 days of positive thinking! 10 days of affirmations! 10 days of creatively visualizing 8 semi-feral cats happily arriving at their new home! And I’m off now to make sacrificial offerings to the Goddess of Semi-Feral Cats, in the event She can intervene on our humble behalf!  (It doesn’t hurt to approach it from every conceivable angle…)

All righty!

Have a wonder-filled Friday, wherever you are, gang! And have a terrific weekend. Thanks for visiting! See ya.

 

 

The world of author Marilyn Jaye Lewis