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.