What A Difference 20 Million Hours of Sleep Makes!

Or, in my case, 8 !!

Yes, I actually slept 8 hours and I never do that. I feel like a functioning human being again.

Let me explain something about Eros, gang. Loyal readers of this lofty blog are no doubt aware that I essentially went kicking & screaming into my career.  By age 12, I knew that I wanted to be a writer. I was thinking I was going to be a songwriter, but I was already writing short stories. Really strange short stories.

Luckily, it was the 1970s (yes! the 1970s were actually good for some things!), and I had really amazing teachers at school. They were open-minded and excited about change and about passing that on to us, the students.  So I got “A”s on stories that would have probably gotten me expelled in other political eras (which came both before and after the 1970s.)

I wasn’t trying to upset people, or anything. And I didn’t know that I was writing anything that might upset anyone. I was just writing the stories that were in my head. And the stories weren’t always school assignments; I would just write stories.

One afternoon, when I was 13, but we were already living in that awful apartment complex that I’ve written about recently, I was home alone, sitting at the kitchen table, writing a story about two grown men who were lovers. Not exactly a topic I knew anything about, but for some reason, the story was coming out of me. I remember this so vividly. I was writing about how one of the characters knew his own body so well, knew what he liked to feel sexually, that it made it effortless for him to make love to another man’s body.

I was writing that when my mom came home and walked into the kitchen. She said, “What are you writing?” ME: “A story about two men who are in love with each other.”

She stared at me, really strangely, and said, “What do you mean, ‘in love’?” And I said that they make love to each other.

She actually sat right down at the kitchen table and said, “Can I read that?” I was very excited because she was actually taking an interest in me and not just exploding at me in her usual awful, horrible way.

So I let her read the story thus far, and at that point, it ended at the aforementioned spot. After she read it, she just sort of stared at it and then she looked at me. And she said, “I never really thought about it like this. I think maybe you could be right. What made you think of this?”

ME: “I don’t know. I’m just writing what’s in my head.” And she was so incredibly nice about it — I can’t stress enough how unusual that was for her. However, she said, “Honey, I wouldn’t show this story to anybody. You might upset people.”

Culturally, of course, we’re talking only 4 years after the Stonewall Riots and gays were barely tolerated, not that I knew anything about that yet. But my mom saying that to me was the first time I learned that things I wrote could maybe upset people.

When I was 14, a story I wrote for English class was about a transvestite fashion model who lived in NYC (I was always writing about only the things I knew first hand!) and how it was a secret — everyone thought the model was a woman, including the readers of my story, until the scene where the model gets out of her shower and sees her actual body in the mirror — the body of a man — and how it devastates her to have this body and so she takes sleeping pills in order to get through the night.

I got an “A++++” on that story. No one ever even talked about transvestites back then, least of all in the Middle-of-Nowhere Ohio. There wasn’t even Cable TV yet, no MTV, no nothing. And it’s not like I had some fresh-from-college, starry-eyed English teacher. She was a black woman in her mid-60s, close to retiring. When she handed me back my paper, she just looked at me and said, “What on Earth made you think of this?”

I honestly didn’t know, but I do think that it’s extremely interesting that during that same time-period, Sandra (the transgender actress I now write plays for in NYC), was, in real life, becoming a successful fashion model in Montreal and no one knew that she was actually a man. Everyone assumed she was a physical woman. Until she got arrested & deported for an expired work visa — then a handful of people found out and Sandra was devastated. It wasn’t too long after that, that she got her surgery. Still, it’s ironic, isn’t it? I didn’t meet her until years later.

Anyway, I’m digressing. But by my late teens, my short stories were getting blatantly erotic and I didn’t know what to do about it. I could not stop it from happening. The only way to stop it was to simply not write them. I was taking a short story writing class that I had to drop out of because the stories my brain insisted on writing were really embarrassing to me.

It took me a long time to come to terms with my stories. It really did. For a long time, I would write the stories, because I physically had to write them; they needed to come out of me. It would make me crazy to try to block them. The words would literally come into my head and just hang around in there until I put them down on paper. So I would write them to ease the pressure, but then tear them up and throw them away. It wasn’t until my friend Valerie began to seriously encourage me, that I began not tearing up the stories and, instead, sending them out for possible publication.  (This was in the late 1980s and there were so many avenues for publication back then. It was an amazing era for literary erotica in the US and the UK.)

It wasn’t until 1994, though, when my best friend Paul began dying from AIDS (it took him about 5 years to die), he told me that I really needed to follow my heart — in every area of my life. (For one thing, he didn’t think I should have married Wayne. He thought Wayne was too conventional for me. It took me forever to see that Paul was right.) But Paul encouraged me to really make a commitment to my fiction writing. And so I did. I gave up the songwriting and focused exclusively on my fiction, even though it terrified me to do that because I knew that it was, for the most part, socially unacceptable to do that — to put all of my focus into writing what other people called porn.

But five years later, when Paul was suffering from severe dementia and could no longer talk, could barely communicate, I flew in from NYC to visit him at the nursing home and I was able to tell him that Neptune & Surf had been published (it had taken me 4 years to write it) — and, for the type of book it was, it was really greeted with high acclaim. And by then, I already knew that a French translation of it would be coming out in Paris the following year.

He really was my dearest, dearest friend; he stood by me in everything. And even though he was so far gone at that point, he had tears in his eyes when I was telling him all this about Neptune & Surf. I knew he understood what I had said. I was pushing him in his wheelchair out in the back garden, so that he could smoke a cigarette (he never forgot how to smoke, even though his muscles would often forget how to swallow and he was always in danger of choking to death whenever he ate or drank anything.) Anyway. He was so happy for me and I knew it and he died a couple months later.

So, you know, by now I have become completely accepting of the fact that for whatever reason, Eros chose me as one of its vehicles for getting itself into the world. And even though I write other stuff, too, I still work really hard at trying to be the best vehicle for Eros that I can be, in terms of the English language. I find so much of what gets into the world today to be really boring, crude, and unimaginative. I know it’s about money now, about making a huge profit, and that for serious erotic art (writing, painting, film) to make its way into the public consciousness today, it requires Herculean determination on the parts of whoever’s creating it.

So, I’m sort of used to living in a world where Eros is inside me and not outside of me anymore. So when it does come at me from somewhere outside of me and hits me between the eyes — wow. For me, it’s like getting hit head-on by the most wonderfully devastating car. It felt immobilizing, in the best possible way. For about 24 hours, I could not think straight.

But I guess I finally slept it off. Or something. I expect to have better luck with the play today.

I do want to mention, not to leave you on a down note, but these fires going on in the Amazon forests. Oh my god. It is just devastating to see. The poor animals, as well as everything and everyone else. It rips my heart to pieces. I don’t know what to do besides pray. I always want to rescue every singe animal from peril, and of course that is impossible.

Okay. Oh, and I want to say that my dear friend Kara, whom I’ve really only known for a very short while, told me yesterday out of the blue that she’d read Neptune & Surf and that it was wonderful. Gosh, that made me feel so happy. No one I personally know has any reason to buy the book anymore, it’s been out for 20 years now. It just made me so happy to hear that. That book was my first baby; it learned how to walk and how to go out into the world.

So, on that note, I’m gonna close and, as usual, get to work!! Thanks for visiting. I leave you with the wonderful song that was going through my head when I woke-up this morning and was so in love with my Muse!! Enjoy it. I love you guys. See ya.

“Good Vibrations”

I-I love the colorful clothes she wears
And the way the sunlight plays upon her hair
I hear the sound of a gentle word
On the wind that lifts her perfume through the air

I’m pickin’ up good vibrations
She’s giving me excitations (Oom bop bop)
I’m pickin’ up good vibrations (Good vibrations, oom bop bop)
She’s giving me excitations (Excitations, oom bop bop)
Good, good, good, good vibrations (Oom bop bop)
She’s giving me excitations (Excitations, oom bop bop)
Good, good, good, good vibrations (Oom bop bop)
She’s giving me excitations (Excitations)

Close my eyes, she’s somehow closer now
Softly smile, I know she must be kind
When I look in her eyes
She goes with me to a blossom world

I’m pickin’ up good vibrations
She’s giving me excitations (Oom bop bop)
I’m pickin’ up good vibrations (Good vibrations, oom bop bop)
She’s giving me excitations (Excitations, oom bop bop)
Good, good, good, good vibrations (Oom bop bop)
She’s giving me excitations (Excitations, oom bop bop)
Good, good, good, good vibrations (Oom bop bop)
She’s giving me excitations (Excitations)

(Ahh)
(Ah, my my, what elation)
I don’t know where but she sends me there
(Oh, my my, what a sensation)
(Oh, my my, what elation)
(Oh, my my, what)

Gotta keep those lovin’ good vibrations a-happenin’ with her
Gotta keep those lovin’ good vibrations a-happenin’ with her
Gotta keep those lovin’ good vibrations a-happenin’

(Ahh)

Good, good, good, good vibrations (Oom bop bop)
(I’m pickin’ up good vibrations) (Oom bop bop)
She’s giving me excitations (Excitations, oom bop bop)
Good, good, good, good vibrations

Na na na na na, na na na
Na na na na na, na na na (Bop bop-bop-bop-bop, bop)
Do do do do do, do do do (Bop bop-bop-bop-bop, bop)
Do do do do do, do do do (Bop bop-bop-bop-bop, bop)

c – 1967 Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Tony Asher

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