Yes, I like my kitties intense, gang. Cigarette-smoking, beer-drinking cats, with those ice blue eyes that have all sorts of unsettling stuff written all over them. [If you’re reading this on my web page and not on your phone, the word cut off at the bottom, up there, is ‘intense.’ — Ed.]
I forgot to mention that, yesterday, I bought my cats some organic catnip. Now that Daddycakes is no longer with us (sadly), I realized that I can have catnip in the house again. Back when I had 2 male cats, the cat fights were off the charts when the catnip came out, so I had to stop buying it. But last night, boy, were there some stoned kitties around here.
The cats have tons of toys, but only a couple of them are the kind that you can stick catnip in. Here is their favorite:
Well. This morning had all the earmarks of a perfect morning. I’m hoping the whole day will follow suit. I haven’t actually looked into my astrology forecast or anything, but it just feels like something huge is either shifting or has shifted in my inner world.
I don’t just feel “happy;” I feel like I’m beginning to understand my life in cosmic proportions.
I don’t think it stems from drinking about 2 ounces of kombucha yesterday (see last night’s post). Seriously, though, I do think that my buying all that stuff yesterday was part of some sort of underlying shift that’s going on.
I also started a new yoga routine a couple of nights ago. (No, not kundalini or tantric. Honestly, if I included sex in every area of my life where I wished to include it, I would get absolutely nothing done.) (Plus, you know, making some sort of meditative practice to open my sexual energy — Jesus Christ. That would be sort of scary. It’s not like I’ve ever made a habit of blocking it.)
But I did change my yoga routine and it was noticeably effective. And by “effective,” I’m not sure what I really mean; just that my mind was different after I did that.
And now wanting all this new food (mostly beverages, apparently) in my life… I don’t know.
When I woke up this morning, I thought fleetingly about that older guy again, from when I was 14, but my thoughts immediately progressed to realizing that 45 summers ago was also when Greg died (on August 27th). I mean, I knew that, but I hadn’t yet affixed that number to it.
And, as an aside, it could very well be that I forgot about that older guy until now, because Greg’s death obliterated everything else in my world. I know the older guy was around for the whole summer, even though I didn’t want to have sex with him anymore, but I think that once his brother was out of prison, they all got construction jobs somewhere else and moved away.
But I was thinking this morning about Greg. Not really able to process what being dead for 45 years means when he was only 15 when he died. I’ve been to his grave a few times since moving back to Ohio. It’s about an hour’s drive from where I am now. I’m not sure if I’ll go visit this month or not. The last time I went, I saw that his dad had died now, too. There was a space between him and his dad and this morning, I was wondering if his mom is going to be buried between her husband and her son. And then I wondered, at what point would I visit his grave and then find his mom there, also?
It is just so weird how life just goes on. I don’t even try to process it because I just can’t. I examine everything, you know; I ponder. I can’t ever seem to stop doing that, but it’s more to look at how certain people or situations made me behave. How they made me feel, which made me behave a certain way.
And then, you live long enough, and you realize that nothing really mattered that much, or as much as you thought it did, because Time passed and everything changed, and then changed again, and then changed again. So I think the story that gets told is who we are from moment to moment. No one experience, no matter how life-changing or life-shattering at the time, is ever the definitive moment; it never truly defines who you are, even though it feels like it does. Eventually, if you live long enough, a deluge of Time passes and all sorts of defining experiences come and go.
I’ve also noticed that when people lose either their spouses or their long-time companions, it can wildly change who they become in life. I’ve seen that happen to quite a few of the men in my family, in very different ways. But the unifying thing underlying it was that the “other” died and it was clear that the man had sort of put his life on hold throughout the whole relationship, and that the death of the partner led to almost overwhelming freedom.
It can be hard for a family to see that, you know? I, being who I always am — a huge believer in emotional freedom — have always supported the men’s choices and usually got everyone else in the family pissed off at me.
My biological grandmother (my birth mom’s mom) was always at odds with me. I knew her for about 30 years before she died, and through most of that time, she wasn’t speaking to me for one reason or another.
The worst event was when my aunt died (her sister).
My uncle — that aunt’s husband –had always been so incredibly kind to me. Just off-the-charts kind. In the early days of knowing my birth mom, it was very hard for me to deal with the fact that she refused to tell me (or anyone, ever) who my dad was. I really, really, really wanted to know.
My uncle took me aside late one summer night, and said, “I wish I could help you. I honestly don’t know who your dad is. If I knew, I’d tell you in a heartbeat, no matter who got upset with me.”
And then after my aunt died, my uncle called me on the phone to tell me a little story.
It turned out, he’d had an illegitimate daughter of his own before he’d married my aunt. He knew he was the girl’s father, and he tried to have a relationship with the girl, but my aunt refused to allow it. So he lived there in the same town with the girl as she grew up.
The girl knew “that’s my father,” and he knew “that’s my daughter,” but they weren’t allowed to even speak to each other or my aunt would have a fit. And when she’d married my uncle, she was a widow with 2 young kids — her husband was a race car driver who got killed in a drag race crash. And my uncle raised my aunt’s 2 kids, and she deprived him of ever being able to know his own daughter.
When my aunt died, the girl — then in her early 40s — read about it in the newspaper and straight away, she finally went to visit her dad, you know? All above board and out in the open. “Ding-dong, the witch is dead,” right?
Wow, was the family up in arms that she did that. And it was even worse to them that my uncle welcomed his daughter with more than open arms: He bought a brand new Cadillac, let his diabetes go, and had a love affair, right out in the open, with his daughter.
Back then, cars didn’t always have that arm rest in the middle of the front seat, and when they’d drive around town in that new Cadillac, my uncle and his grown daughter would sit right up close together while he drove, like they were lovers, and it pissed the whole town off.
And I was the only one who was okay with that. I just thought that was the fucking coolest thing. My aunt deprived those two of everything that could have been normal between them for their whole lives. And so it was all coming out in the wash. (At the time, I was still a singer-songwriter in NYC and I wrote a song about it: “In this car of my old man’s/we run as fast as the racing wind…”)
My grandmother, of course, stopped speaking to me because I was “on my uncle’s side.” But my uncle would call me on the phone to talk to me about how he’d felt about everything — for all those years. How much he loved his daughter. How it killed him to never be able to even wish her a Merry Christmas or a Happy Birthday, or to even be allowed to acknowledge her when he saw her in the supermarket, where she worked when she was in her teens.
Eventually my uncle landed in the hospital because he let his diabetes go, and then he died soon after. But one time when he called me from his hospital bed, he said: “My daughter has something very important she wants to tell you.” So he put her on the phone with me.
At that point, I was still in my 20s, so she was a lot older than I was. And I knew that she and my uncle weren’t just having a love affair — I knew they were incestuous, too. They were doing it. And it did not bother me one bit. To me, they were adults, making their own choices. And so she gets on the phone with me, while she’s literally lying on the hospital bed next to my uncle — her dad — and what does she tell me? She told me who my father was.
She was a little older than my mom, but they’d gone to the same school when my mom got pregnant with me, and for all those years, she knew who “the father of Cherie’s baby” was. And that night, when she told me who he was, was the first time she learned that I was that baby.
If you remember a night about 30 years ago, when it felt like the planets stopped revolving in their orbits for a moment and the stars sort of exploded — that would have been the night she told me that over the phone: Who my father was. At last. He had a name. He existed. The name I had waited a lifetime to hear – I now knew it.
That alone, helped my uncle die happy, because he really, really did want me to know who my dad was. He thought that it wasn’t fair of my mother to have never told the guy that he was a dad, that he had a daughter in the world.
So anyway. Death creates peculiar and unexpected stories, even though the heartbreak that comes along with it is real. I’ll decide in a few weeks if I want to go back to visit Greg’s grave. Part of it is that I just feel he is so long gone from that grave, you know? 45 years, people. And he was only 15 when they put him in there, and in life, he was always up and out and looking for trouble. I’m guessing that death didn’t change him much.
Okay. This morning, appropriately enough, the music was all about Joni Mitchell singing “Both Sides Now.” However, I actually like Neil Diamond’s version better. So I’m gonna leave you once again with a song from Rainbow.
Thanks for visiting, gang. I gotta get back to the rewrites on the play. (Oh, and Nick Cave sent out a new Red Hand Files newsletter so I gotta go read that!!!) I love you guys. See ya.
“BOTH SIDES NOW”
Bows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way
But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all
Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way
But now it’s just another show
You leave ’em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know
Don’t give yourself away
I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all
Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say “I love you” right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way
But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day
I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all
I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all
c- 1967 Joni Mitchell