I Am Just Fried, Gang

My brain is really just wandering in the morass of this play. I am lost, gang, you know? Not sure even what I’m trying to say in this segment anymore.

I’m leading up to a critical point — where Helen’s grandson is crushed by a train.  It is the worst moment of her life and she never really recovers from the loss. But we, as the audience, “re-live” the accident while Helen is still in the dream of being inside her painting, because that is where all her loved ones “come to life” while being in the sweet hereafter…

But I myself am just lost right now, trying to find my way through it.

I miss those days when I was still writing Blessed By Light. I really, really miss that novel. It felt like my dear and constant companion, you know?

Plus, I’m 2 weeks behind in writing new segments for In the Shadow of Narcissa. But I’m going to be in NYC in one month, and the initial rehearsals are supposed to start for this play that I have not finished revising. So I really can’t even think of doing anything else right now. And I am thoroughly exhausted.

And I still can’t decide if I’m going to drive to New York or take a plane.  And I really ought to make that decision soon.  I kind of hate being locked into a flight; if I drive, I have lots more control over when I come and go. But I think: if I’m this exhausted now, what will I be like in a few weeks? It’s a ten-hour drive each way.

I just don’t know. I wish someone would make all my decisions for me from now on and just say: “Here, this is what you’re gonna do.” I won’t have to think every gosh darn day, you know? From sun up to sun down.

Oh wait. I think they call that prison… Or high school.

But on  another note.

You know what I discovered? The school tax is unbelievably high out here in Muskingum County. Back, many months ago, when I was doing my taxes, I thought my math was way off — no way could anybody’s school taxes be that high. So I decided not to pay it because I knew that the State would eventually get back to me with the bill and tell me the real amount.

Yeah, well. They did. And now it’s even higher because they tacked on late fees and interest. Boggles my mind. I’ve never lived anywhere where the school taxes were so high. For the amount I have to pay now for school taxes, I could have re-booked that suite at the Algonquin Hotel.

Doesn’t really seem fair, does it? I mean, I don’t have kids. No one I even remotely know is going to school around here. And yet every writer I’ve ever worshiped has stayed at the Algonquin Hotel.

Grumble, grumble. Wouldn’t want the children of Crazeysburg to be under-educated, would I?

Well, gang, I’m not even going to try to get back to work here tonight. I am going to collapse on my bed and stare at my maple tree as night falls outside my window and hope that something Muse-worthy comes to me before daybreak tomorrow because the days are really just zipping by.

I cannot adequately tell you how stressed I am.

Hope you all had a good day out there; wherever you were and whatever you did! Thanks for visiting. I love you guys! (Oh, I leave you with this — just because I thought it was so funny! I was googling images of “bad cats” — you know, mean cats — and I got “naughty pussies” instead!!) (I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how delighted that made me.)

Okay. See ya.

Oh For Christ Sake, Just Say No to Drugs Already!!!

You know, chocolate ice cream is a drug (see last night’s post). And drugs won’t solve your problems, or make them go away.  Drugs only help you pretend that you’ve got it all under control. But like all good drugs, ice cream eventually wears off. Then what are you stuck with?

My whole day (and night) was just totally fucked yesterday. Jesus. I wish I could just get a grip on my brain, you know?

The chocolate ice cream worked for a little while.  I was feeling pretty pleased with everything. Yeah, like, this ice cream thing was gonna work. But I got into bed feeling a little iffy, like maybe the ice cream was wearing off; like maybe I should take another hit before going to sleep…but that meant I’d have to go back down to the kitchen, maybe even have to wash my bowl and my spoon again. Then brush my teeth again, so that the sugary ice cream residue wasn’t burrowing little holes into my teeth while I slept.

Should I just stick it out?  Get another happiness hit? What to do, what to do…

I give you the soundtrack from last night in bed.

Not so terrible, at first. Kinda really sweet and beautiful:

And it slowly mutated into this; still not unmanageable:

Then it wandered down a little side street into this (getting a little needy around midnight – 1am):

Oops, then it got a wee bit intense and went into some very dicey territory indeed. Clearly the ice cream was on its last legs:

Sadly,  by 3:28am we were right back at square one, absolutely needing another fix…

And then I was awake for the rest of the goddamned night.

(And it all started out yesterday with this):

All righty, gang!!!!! I seriously gotta get crackin’ around here. I am so fucking behind schedule now, you have no idea. But thanks for visiting! I love you guys. See ya!

Hmm…Will Chocolate Ice Cream Solve This Problem?

It turns out, the answer is yes.

Do not let others dissuade you. Do not let others bombard you with practicality, or encourage you to resort to reason. When all else fails (and I do mean ALL else), and you are too distracted by the thoughts that are in your wee bonny head and you cannot focus and get back to work, get in your fucking car and go get chocolate ice cream.

I was absolutely derailed today by somebody’s  Red Hand Files newsletter that arrived in my inbox at an odd time — meaning, when I was sitting at the laptop with the play in front of me, anticipating a stellar day of writing and then did a quick check of my email…

This week, Nick Cave was replying to a fan who wanted to better understand the lyrics to the song”Rings of Saturn,” from off of the Skeleton Tree album, and his explanation sort of left me super distracted and I wasn’t able to get back to planet Earth until I finally gave in and went and got chocolate. (You can read what he said if you wish to; it’s linked up there above.)

I’m not somebody who eats a lot of chocolate, although I eat about an ounce of organic, imported, high-cocoa content chocolate every day. Which basically means that it’s good for your heart and there’s absolutely no joy left in it.

And sometimes you just need it, you know? You need to sort of saturate your brain with an all-out love-bomb of pure sugar-laden, fat-heavy JOY, in order to stop feeling like you’re needing something you can’t have, and get over it, and get back to focusing on your Pulitzer Prize.

The problem is, I actually love chocolate. And having a carton of chocolate ice cream in my freezer only means that I will eat the entire contents of the  carton long before any risk of freezer burn sets in. (Do you ever look at the expiration dates on certain items and just chuckle, sort of uncontrollably? Like, on what planet would this carton of ice cream still be in my freezer past, like, Friday??!!)

Anyway. I have had my emergency ice cream placebo for the moment. (And yes, I bought Hershey’s chocolate syrup, too, and everyone in the checkout line at the dollar store looked at me with my 2 items full of chocolatey-goodness and looked like they thought I was either high and getting ready to binge out, or like they were high and really wanted to come home with me.) But I am back on track. My brain is my own again. And I still have all night to get some stellar writing done.

It is indescribably humid here today, gang. Not too hot, thank god, but humid beyond belief. I’m hoping it will rain soon, or downpour torrentially because I’m sweating like crazy and can barely breathe, the air is so thick. My wee bonny de-humidifier is working overtime.  But I have noticed that chocolate ice cream actually helps me think. It really does. So I’m not gonna worry about the poor air quality or the 86-degrees-Fahrenheit heat. I’m just gonna write!! And if the brain dies and I need more chocolate ice cream in a hurry, I know where to find it!

Okay, gang! Thanks for visiting. I got a lot I need to get to before night falls. I love you guys. See ya!

Image result for vintage ads for refrigerators
Looks like somebody’s found the ice cream!!

Renewed Focus on Tiny Miracles

I’m gonna say first that, last evening, I was driving back from town. It was already dark out. I was blasting Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” from the car’s CD player and I was loving every fucking moment of my life.

There are train tracks all over Muskingum County — the Ohio Central System train is the one that screams by my house, sometimes several times a day/night, and has done so, apparently, for well over 150 years. (The train tracks were laid right through this town before the Civil War, which began in 1860.)

While I was listening to “Folsom Prison Blues” (and thinking, what a weird song for an 11-year-old girl to be so in love with), I was also thinking, Wouldn’t it be so cool if the train was just suddenly somewhere around here, rushing past while I’m listening to this specific song?

For some reason, I never see trains when I’m driving around here — least of all, at night. I see tons of them from my house, or my kitchen porch. In fact, here are some:

The train getting ready to arrive, seen from my bedroom window at night. I then turned it into the cover for Girl In the Night : Erotic Love Letters to the Muse
The train as seen from my kitchen porch one afternoon last summer
The train rushing past one evening back in July, as seen from my upstairs hall window. I loved that these 2 young teenage girls were watching the train go past at the height of a summer evening because I know for a fact that they’re gonna be as old as me in the wink of a fucking eye

Anyway, I love the train but I am never in my car when it is ever around, anywhere in the entire county. And I was wishing, wouldn’t it be nice if just this once…

So last night, I was getting ready to make a right turn onto Basin Street. The CD was really blasting, gang. I mean, I play my music really loud. And even with Johnny Cash shouting at me, and a bunch of jangley guitars, I thought to myself, What the hell is that noise?

And then I turned and then I saw it!! The train was in the process of barreling past my house, a block away, and I was gonna have to wait there in the dark at the railroad crossing for it to finish passing, while listening to “Folsom Prison Blues” — one of the best train songs, ever!!

I was so excited! Another wish, granted here in Muskingum County!

I was in the happiest, most amazing mood yesterday. I woke up just deliriously happy yesterday morning.  And that train thing just capped off the whole evening.

But for some inexplicable reason, I woke up this morning, just filled with anxiety and battling depression. Why does that happen, you know? I went to sleep around midnight. I woke at 5:30am. Not a lot of time to do anything weird or different, right? And I woke up and suddenly my whole life seemed unmanageable and out of my control.

I’m guessing it’s exhaustion, gang.

Plus, I’m feeling guilty because I still haven’t talked to Sandra yet, in detail, about all these changes I’m making to the play. I know the play is really good, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to appreciate all these changes I’ve made while she was busy doing some TV show in Canada. Plus it was starting to bother me that I’m going to be spending all that money on a  suite at the Algonquin Hotel for one night in September (after I see Nick Cave at Town Hall), when I don’t know yet when I have to fly to Toronto, how long I’ll have to stay in Toronto, or where I’m even staying when I go there. I’m only going to be in that suite for a few hours, by myself — and I’m only doing it because I want to feel liberated from the entirety of my second marriage, in a spiritual sense, which has already been over for years. If Toronto weren’t looming, the cost of the suite wouldn’t bother me so much, but I finally called the Algonquin this morning and switched the reservation to a regular room there, instead.

(And it was only a couple hundred dollars difference! So I might actually call back and re-book the suite. I just don’t know.)

Anyway. I’m also freaking out a little bit because the version of the play I’m writing necessitates a much larger budget than we were initially planning on (part of why I’m worried about talking to Sandra). And even though the director keeps telling me, stop thinking about the budget, just write the best play you can. For some weird reason, this morning I woke-up thinking about nothing but that stupid budget, and it was really getting to me.

I hate trying to grapple with doubt. I really, really just hate that. Why can’t I just be on my own side all the time, you know?

I still do my meditation first thing after breakfast every day, and then do that journaling thing with my Inner Being — which told me that these were all paper tigers, and that there was nothing to fear; to just get back on the mental frequency that would disperse them.

It wasn’t easy, but I did manage to do that, even though it still kept me from getting any writing done, which started to stress me out all over again. I have only a handful of days left to finish this play and still stay on schedule.

I just want to not be exhausted, you know? I need a fucking vacation. I want to go to that cabin in the caves with Kara and sit in that hot tub under the stars!! But I can’t see that happening for awhile yet because I’m working the whole damn summer away. And all the kids around here have already gone back to fucking school!!!! What the fuck!! Where the heck is the summer going??!!

It’s freaking me out, gang…

So it wound up being a weird day for me today, after my being in such a fantastic mood last night.

I’m much better now, though. I went out driving around, listening to Push the Sky Away by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, and even while that’s not what you might call an “upbeat, happy album,” for some reason, it made me feel a lot better. It’s a really beautiful album, even though it’s very abstract and sort of violent in places.

My favorite song on the album is “Water’s Edge” — not the happiest song you’ve ever heard, but for some reason, I just love that song. I guess because it makes me think. The whole album makes me think, really, because it’s so visual and yet I don’t 100% understand all the pictures it’s putting into my head.

Which I guess was a good way to get me to stop thinking about stuff that was worrying me.

That said, it’s a really lovely evening here tonight, even though all the kids have gone back to school. It still feels like summer to me. So I’m gonna try to make the most of it, while it lasts. Tomorrow’s another day. I’m guessing the writing will go better tomorrow because it has to.

Okay. Hope Monday was okay for you, wherever you were and whatever you did! Thanks for visiting. I love you guys. See ya.

“Water’s Edge”

They take apart their bodies like toys for the local boys
Because they’re always there at the edge of the water
They come from the capital these city girls
Go way down where the stones meet the sea
And all you young girls, where do you hide?
Down by the water and the restless tide
And the local boys hide on the mound and watch
Reaching for the speech and the word to be heard
And the boys grow hard, hard to be heard
Hard to be heard as they reach for the speech
And search for the word on the water’s edge
But you grow old and you grow cold
Yeah you grow old and you grow cold
And they would come in their hoards these city girls
With white strings flowing from their ears
As the local boys behind the mound think long and hard
About the girls from the capital
Who dance at the water’s edge
Shaking their asses
And all you young lovers
Where do you hide?
Down by the water and the restless tide

With a bible of tricks they do with their legs
The girls reach for the speech and the speech to be heard
To be hard the local boys teem down the mound
And seize the girls from the capital
Who shriek at the edge of the water
Shriek to speak and reach for the speech
Yeah reach for the speech and be heard
But you grow old and you grow cold
Yeah you grow old and you grow cold
You grow old

Their legs wide to the world like bibles open
To be speared and taking their bodies apart like toys
They dismantle themselves by the waters edge
And reach for the speech and the wide wide world
And, God knows, the local boys

It’s the will of love
It’s the thrill of love
Ah but the chill of love
Is comin’ on

It’s the will of love
It’s the thrill of love
Ah but the chill of love
Is comin’ on

It’s the will of love
It’s the thrill of love
Ah but the chill of love
Is comin’ down, people

c – 2013  Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Thomas Wydler

No! I’m Not a Nun!!

But thank you for thinking that there might be even the smallest shred of possibility that it would be allowed.

They barely let me become a minister, you know?

You guys are too cute, though. Someone DM’d me yesterday re: yesterday’s post wherein I said that I’ve lived alone for 15 years.

That just means I’ve lived alone for 15 years. It doesn’t mean that I haven’t dated or had sex in 15 years. (Or contemplated marriage again — if you recall Mob Guy #2’s sudden reappearance from the Bronx last summer wherein a friend from NYC had to vigorously shake me and shout: “Are you out of your fucking mind?!” ) (And I want to just point out here, people, that yes, I am out of my fucking mind. That part is always a given.  I’m out of my fucking mind.  That should just always be the platform from which you then spring into actual questions. Otherwise, you’re only wasting my time.)

However, “living alone for 15 years” mostly just means that those Hillbilly-Deluxe guys who are nothing but trouble, who I can still see coming from 5 miles away (they are all over Muskingum County, gang — to the rafters, and they come in all sorts of age ranges now, including grandpa-range ) I just won’t even look twice at guys like  that anymore.

Okay, I look twice. Because I’m not dead. But that third time — not happening. Anymore. I got too much to do.

And when I do sometimes slip into that third look — you know, right away, it turns into whisky, it turns into unfiltered cigarettes, it turns into stupidly expensive black underwear. (And I don’t drink and smoke anymore so it makes me really sick in the morning, even though, you know, I still look really good in black.)

But I got too much to do! I’m so serious!

All righty!!

Today is a big day! Yes, that means that I’m going to wash my hair! And I have new hair-volumizing products from France that are super cool. They actually work! At the roots! Where I need volume. It’s made from organic molecular quinoa something-or-other. I don’t actually know because the key descriptive words are all in French. And I never studied molecular French, just the conversational kind of French. But, anyway, it works.

Which reminds me that Kara keeps inquiring how I’m doing with my cellulite — referring to that ridiculously expensive cream from that same company in France that offered me that tube for free if I would just purchase one at a reduced price. So I did.  Even though I honestly don’t care about my cellulite. However, I’ve postponed that experiment until Fall because it turns out that the cream is really thick and the constant humidity here in the Hinterlands all summer long is thick enough. I don’t need to sweat my entire life away.

Some glorious fall day, though, we’ll see. But Kara is too cute. She keeps assuring me not to worry about it and that European women have all that cellulite and it’s really chic. Which just cracks me up. I don’t recall ever seeing a bunch of chic European women with a bunch of cellulite. But then, you know, I’m actually never looking.

So that is today! Wash hair. Write. Do yoga. Repeat.

I’m gonna scoot now and get Sunday happening around here. The church bells are ringing outside my window as I type! (Yes, the village is tiny enough that I can not only hear the church bells through my open window, but I can also look out the open window and see the actual church. I just love that!)

I’m gonna leave you with this song that just now occurred to me. It was popular on the AM radio when I was about 12. It has a really fun chorus, even though I never actually went for that kind of bait. Not even at age 12. Okay. Thanks for visiting, gang. I love you guys. See ya!

“I Hear Those Church Bells Ringing”

You kiss me real good now
Like I knew that you could now
Time to do what you should now
Because you’re getting to me

Oh, no, no, no, boy
Got to take it real slow, boy
This is as far as we go, boy
Until you hear what I hear

I hear those church bells ringing
Will you marry me
Will you carry me
Across the threshold tenderly

I hear those church bells ringing
Can’t you hear them too
Listen, honey
Ringing, I love you

Let’s get it together
The sooner the better
God, I can’t wait forever
When I need you right now

Ain’t getting much stronger
Can’t resist you much longer
To let you go would be wronger
Than to love you right now

I hear those church bells ringing
Will you marry me
Will you carry me
Across the threshold tenderly, yeah

I hear those church bells ringing
Can’t you hear them too
Listen, honey
Singing, I love you

Oh, honey
I hear those church bells ringing
Will you marry me
Will you carry me
Across the threshold tenderly, yeah

I hear those church bells ringing
Can’t you hear them too
Listen, honey
Singing, I love you

I hear those church bells ringing
Will you marry me…

c – 1972 Irwin Levine, L. Russell Brown

Don’t Worry, I Don’t Believe You Anyway!

I’ve noticed that people post a lot of lists these days.  Their favorite this and their favorite that.

On Instagram, for instance, Magic Johnson has been posting excessive lists: His Top 60 favorite things of everything in the world. You know, like: “My Top 60 Female R & B Singers” and stuff like that (wherein, I did not even know there were that many female R&B singers, so that was cool).

But anyway.

I am not a list-maker. Lists take time, and contemplation, and consideration. And I think that we all know that, since I basically don’t even have time to think about what I want to eat anymore, I certainly don’t have time to make random lists.

I only make lists when I go to the local dollar store, otherwise I will go in needing important things, like soap, and come out with things like this instead:

Really cool little plastic pineapple that glows in all different colors

And then I go home and, later, I get in the shower and find no soap and think, fuck!!!

So I make those kinds of lists. And I try like heck to remember to look at the fucking list while I’m still in the store, so that I’m not back home in the soap-less shower again, thinking, fuck!!!!

But this morning, I was thinking about Johnny Cash again, and from there, I started thinking about all the female Country & Western singers that I absolutely loved as a little girl and of course I began to consider that pattern, which was so prevalent in female C&W songs back in my wee bonny girlhood, which is that: Men lie like dogs and will just break your heart and fuck you up and they drink too much and will run around on you and leave you and yet you love them to death anyway and cannot live without them, as hard as you might try, so don’t be surprised if you just end up alone in a bar someday, drunk.

And I thought back on all my truly favorite songs by female C & W singers when I was a little girl, and I saw this said pattern in the songs that were indeed my favorites. And I wondered why these songs had appealed to me so much when I was little, and also wondered if those songs had any real impact on how I experienced the opposite sex as I was growing up.

I came to the conclusion this morning that those songs were nothing but absolutely 100% correct. And of course they influenced (or fell completely in line with) how I felt about men.

And by that, I mean, that I always fell for the worst possible guys. The loners who, if they weren’t already in trouble with the law, would be within the next 5 minutes. Guys who drank and smoked and took drugs and worked on cars or worked construction and hung out in the kind of bars that were actually dangerous. And they loved to have sex.

By the time I was in my late teens, I could see a guy like that coming from 5 miles away and I would be boarding that train by the time he arrived in the station, you know?

But the weird twist was that I was just like those guys. I wasn’t some girl who didn’t know any better, or who would try to get them to behave differently or anything like that. I loved going to cheap motels, drinking whisky, having sex. I honestly always loved doing that. But I always had a mind of my own; I always had my own plans, my own dreams. For instance, I knew from age 7 that I wanted to get the hell out of Dodge and go to New York City when I “grew up.” (Which turned out to be at age 20.)

Unlike the C&W songs, I didn’t want to get married and settle down. And from the start, I didn’t trust guys any further than I could throw them. I always just assumed that when they were out of my field of vision, they were up to things I didn’t want to know about so I didn’t ask.

But it didn’t mean that I didn’t actually love them. I sure as hell did. If I fell for a guy, I fell body & soul.

Still,  I could not understand why that meant I had to give up my dreams and get married, settle down. (Even guys in trouble with the law want to get married and settle down.) It didn’t make any sense to me.

So regardless of which guy it was, we would always end up fighting like the proverbial cats & dogs because I wouldn’t do what I was expected to do (settle down), and I’d end up leaving, breaking it off because I didn’t want to be owned.  Even though it meant I was leaving with a truly broken heart. I really was.

Right before I left for NYC, at age 20, I adopted this sort of personal policy: If ever I saw a guy like that coming my way, ever again, I would walk the other way and let the train ride on past. I wasn’t boarding any more of those trains.

And it was kind of easy to stick to my policy. Because the kind of guy I really went for was usually that “hillbilly mix” — meaning a mixed heritage of German/Irish/Cherokee and decidedly rural. There were guys like that in NYC (usually transplanted musicians from Kentucky or someplace like that), but I would try like heck to steer clear of them.

I wound up going out with really amazing men, from all over the world — marrying a couple of them, too. But I would never allow myself to really fall in love with any of them.

And the one time I did, when I let my guard down when I was 40, and fell absolutely in love, trying like hell not to fall in love; when we finally got together in a cheap motel room in the Bronx, when I finally knew for certain, in my heart, that I had truly fallen in love with a guy, for the first time in over 20 years — you know, we’re in that bed, he’s got on his gold chains, his gold rings, his gold watch, his tattoo, his amazingly beautiful eyes, and he’s lighting a cigarette and he says, “I have something I better tell you right now, honey.”

He was fresh out of Riker’s, awaiting trial, looking at 15 years minimum for attempted murder. “But it wasn’t really like that,” he added. “The other guy had it coming.” He and I lasted about 5 years…until he gambled away all my money.

Yeah, well. It’s sufficient to say I live alone now and have for 15 years.

Here’s my fucking list.

And last but by no means least:

Ever since you left me, I’ve done nothing but wrong
Many nights I’ve laid awake and cried
We were so happy, my heart was in a whirl
But now I’m a honky tonk girl

[Chorus]
So turn that jukebox way up high
And fill my glass up while I cry
I’ve lost everything in this world
And now I’m a honky tonk girl

[Verse 2]
I just can’t make a right with all of my wrongs
Every evening of my life seems so long
I’m sorry and ashamed for all these things you see
But losing him has made a fool of me

[Chorus]
So fill my glass up to the rim
To lose my memory of him
I’ve lost everything in this world
And now I’m a Honky Tonk Girl

c – 1960 Loretta Lynn

Man. Time is Really Just Killin’ Me, Gang!!!

I don’t know if it’s like this all over the world, but in the Eastern region of America, the full moon in August is always pretty spectacular. It’s just huge and sort of rose-tinted.

Last evening, the full moon here in Muskingum County was also surrounded by puffs of clouds, so it was really incredible to look at.  And here in my own backyard, my neighbors (the drummer) have enormous old pine trees and for awhile, the full moon was shining through the tops of the pines down into my huge kitchen window.

It really was just so pretty. But bittersweet, too, since mid-August means that the summer is sort of galloping to a close.

I have spent the entire summer at my desk. I didn’t even get to the movies to see “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood,” which I really wanted to see. But the movie theater is 45 minutes away from me. So that’s an hour and a half of driving, plus a 2-hour movie… I just never managed to make time.

The director texted me yesterday that he’s extended his stay here in the Hinterlands of Ohio until the end of August so that he can be here to  meet with me pretty constantly until I get this play finished.  So I really, really, really gotta get this play finished. (Not that I was doing anything else other than that at all.)

And I still haven’t told Sandra about the extent of these revisions. I’ve only told her that I’m bringing back some of the earlier elements and that this time it’s working out really well.  Which is such an indescribable understatement of what is really happening, that now I don’t even know how to explain it to her. Plus, I have no idea when we’re supposed to go to Toronto regarding the other play; all I know is that the meeting will yield an enormous amount of rewrites for the other play.

I just want to be ready. So I’m just sort of in this weird world of constantly working so that I can be “ready.” Whatever the heck that really means.

Yesterday, I passed by my couch in the family room on my way to the stairs — I have an extremely comfortable couch in the family room. The kind you could easily sleep on all night and not wake up feeling like you’d slept on a couch all night. I passed by this same couch yesterday afternoon and realized that I had not so much as sat down on it in probably a year. So I sat down on it for about 60 seconds and remembered fondly all the many fantastic British crime dramas I used to watch while hanging out on the comfy couch! Not working! Sometimes even snacking! Sometimes even ordering in a pizza!!!!

That seems like somebody else’s life!

And also yesterday, I wanted some apple cider vinegar because my sinuses were bothering me because of allergies, and the cupboard that it was in was stuck shut because of the humidity. I hadn’t opened that particular cupboard in ages. I really had to yank it to get it to open. And once I did, it really was like the cupboard from yesteryear! In that one cupboard, at least, time had stopped!

All those herbs and spices and grains and different types of oils and vinegars and organic this and organic that. I was spellbound, just staring at it all. My god. I used to cook!!! All the time!!!

Now, all I do is work and I barely eat and the months disappear.

And I so much want to go with Kara to that cabin in the caves with the hot tub, but I can’t see it happening until the summer is basically over. That’s so disappointing.

But we will eventually get there.

It just is what it is for now.  I’m really just so thrilled with how the play is finally going that all I really want to do is just let it come out.

Still, it’s scary how time is flying. And I know that my whole body is intensely stressed, even though I’m doing my yoga 4-5 times a week. I never relax anymore unless I’m collapsing into bed. The thought of collapsing on the couch instead, with a pizza (??!!) and bingeing on episodes of DCI Somebody or Other??!! My god how fun!!

Well, someday.

Meanwhile.  Yes. I have to get to work on the play here. I would leave you with what I was listening to but you can’t actually get it on YouTube, so I’ll just say I was playing a lot of phenomenal Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers live bootleg stuff from the early 1980s, really, really loud. It was fun, but you’ll just have to take my word for it.  (And, btw, the new Tropical Fuck Storm CD, Braindrops, will be released next week. I am really eager to hear that. What I’ve heard from it so far, I have really just loved. Especially that song, “Paradise.”)

All right, well. Thanks for visiting, gang. I hope you have a really fun Friday! Go take a vacation for me or something, okay?? Okay! I love you guys! See ya.

Enjoy that full moon, all you owls & pussycats!

The Thrill of All This Fucked-Up-Ness!!

I don’t know, but when I need to feel sort of “at peace” with where I am in life, vintage illustrations really do it for me. They calm me down. I like to ponder them.

They instantly propel me into thoughts of: Wow, remember when life in America was like this? So much simpler…everyone was happy

I know. Life was never like this. I mean, look at the size of that trailer, for one thing. The only way that many Americans, from 3 generations no less, would be happy living in a trailer that size would be if all of them were on prescription medication, 24/7.

But it’s fun to dream, right?

I mean, I’m really happy with my house — I love my house. It’s the first real home, emotionally, that I’ve ever had. And I love this town. I love being in the middle of peaceful nowhere.

However, if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you can readily see that a really long line of fucked-up-ness is trailing after me. And through relentless trial & error (i.e., living my life), it became apparent that things go better for me when I’m left alone.

And, of course, being left alone is often really lonely. But at the same time, when I’m hanging out alone not attempting suicide, I get a lot more done.

But, man. What a lot of fucked-up adults in that apartment complex, right? And nobody leaving me alone for a minute. The only people leaving me alone were my parents. They had no clue what was happening to me in that apartment complex. My mom would put in appearances in order to be really abusive and frightening, but otherwise, she was off in the world, finding herself. Like every other divorced woman of that era, it seems. And by then, my dad didn’t  live in the same town as us anymore.

But I don’t think he would have given a shit anyway. Nothing really registered with him when it came to me. His whole life was consumed with hating my mother. That’s all he could see back then.

He would come to town once a month to take me out, and in order to piss off my mother, he would take me to these really violent, inappropriate movies for a young girl to see. Things like Walking Tall and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. It wasn’t just that these movies were extremely violent, they had violence against women in them that was horrifying to me. I was traumatized by those movies because I absolutely did not know how to process that type of violence against women. It was all new to me and just terrifying. I would come home from those movies, and just hide in my room for hours.

But all my dad cared about was how pissed off my mom would be when she’d find out which movie he’d taken me to this time. And when the sexual assaults started to actually happen to me (in that same horrible apartment complex) my dad was the last person it would have occurred to me to go to for help. I didn’t go to anybody, actually.  I couldn’t figure out who on Earth would care.

After Greg died and the actual rapes began happening — I was just a dead girl walking, really.

Yesterday, after I posted about the sleeping pill problem and the mental hospital, I remembered how, once I was finally released several months later, I went back to my room at home and everything in there was exactly as I had left it when they’d scurried me away. Nothing had been touched. Flushing all those pills down the toilet was completely unnecessary (although it was a good thing that I’d done it, because I didn’t have them waiting for me when I got out).

But yesterday, that just seemed so sad to me. If it had been my kid — or anyone at all that I loved or cared about — I would have gone through every single thing in that room; trying to figure out who that person really was, what had gone so wrong that she would try to kill herself.

I had journals in there, too. Things were written down. Nobody bothered to look. For my mother, it was like: close the door; she’s someone else’s problem now.

The thing that would just enrage me, even at that young age, was that I had been taken away from my “real” mother only to be put into all of that. Even though, at that time, I didn’t know my mother had only been 13 when I was born, what I was told was that she “loved me but wasn’t able to take care of me” so she had to give me up.

I guarantee you, all I heard in that explanation was that my real mother loved me…

(And many years later, when I finally found her, it was the very first thing that I discovered that was absolutely true: She loved me more than life itself, really.)

Well.

Yesterday also yielded some really cool new pages in the play. It took several hours for them to finally come out of me. It was one of those days where I would sit at the desk, agonize, clutch my hair a bit. Get up, walk around the room. Sit back down at the desk.

I fumbled with that unlit Pall Mall I always have at my desk now. And I kept looking at it, wondering: if I lit it and smoked it, would the words finally come? (I didn’t light it. I never do.)

And then, all of the sudden, around 3pm, it all began tumbling out. Some of it, I’d had no clue I was getting ready to write! Some of it was disturbing, yet I still knew it was good. And I wondered, where the heck did that come from?

The process of writing can just be so strange. You wait for it and wait for it, and when it comes out, you look at it and go: wow, who the heck are you?

The main segment I wrote yesterday (something I knew I was going to write, it just took me forever to find my way into it) involves Helen going back 10 years or so in her mind and spending time with her adult grandson before he dies, and then she goes back another 25 years and goes fishing with that same grandson as a little boy but her adult grandson, now dead, comes back as a ghost and is fishing with them and they’re all having a great time fishing at the river even though Helen and the young grandson can’t see the ghost, and then the entire cast of characters — because we’re still in Helen’s dream, where she’s alive inside one of her own paintings and all the people she loves who have died are alive again in the painting  — all those characters sing a really jubilant & rambunctious version of the old slave spiritual, “Down By the Riverside.”

Are you following that? Do you see why maybe a lit cigarette could help?

But I got through it!! And I was really happy with the results. (And the director texted this morning that he “loved, loved, loved it.”)

So! Onward, right, gang??

All right.

Another bright spot I want to mention before I close this today. For 2 mornings in a row, 2 of my rescued feral cats — Huckleberry and Doris — have let me (very briefly) pet them!

This is the first time I’ve been able to touch them since Daddycakes died. It made me really happy.

Okay. I’ll leave you with this. For some reason, I just love listening to all these little kids singing the old slave songs. I like it much better than the adult choirs, because the adults just get complicated and fussy. All right. I love you guys. Thanks for visiting. See ya!

The Gentle Joys of Summer!!

After my little trip down memory lane to Arkansas, in yesterday’s post, I spent a lot of time thinking about Johnny Cash.

He was a huge part of my wee bonny girlhood, on up through my entire adult life. I loved Johnny Cash.

In Cleveland, in the era that I grew up in, radio stations would play all kinds of music. You didn’t tune to one specific station to hear a certain type of music you liked. Each station played everything, although Cleveland was a huge rock & roll city, so there was a lot of that on the radio. But they also played Country — the old style, or what I would call actual Country music: Country & Western.

So in my childhood, I was exposed to a lot of Country music. On the radio on the school bus, for instance, The Doors singing “Light My Fire,” would be followed by Merle Haggard singing “I’m Proud to be an Okie from Muskogee.”

And Johnny Cash was just huge; he was so popular. “A Boy Named Sue” — we were all just little kids, and we’d all sing along to that on the school bus! Really gleefully, we’d all shout out: “My name is SUE!! How do you do!!”

I adored that song he sang with June, “Jackson.” Still love that song. And for a while he had that variety show on TV that I just loved.

By the time I was 11, we moved to Columbus –a town I have never, ever been fond of, but I did like that in Columbus there was even more Country & Western on the radio than there’d been up in Cleveland.

Literally, Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” would be followed up with Jeanne Pruett singing “Satin Sheets.” (I totally loved that song! Here it is, in fact! This song was probably the main reason why I grew up believing that rich men were never gonna be good in bed. ) (I won’t say whether or not that ended up being true… you decide.)

But after we moved to Columbus, I got to do that truly awesome thing that happened every August: Attend the Ohio State Fair!!

Back then, the fair was a really big deal.  It took place during the last couple weeks of summer, so it meant that all your summer dreams & summer loves were coming to an end.  And the midway was lit up at night with all those amusement rides and there was all that food that was so bad for you. And everything just felt electrifying because you knew the summer was as a good as over and pretty soon you’d be back in school (which I hated — I absolutely hated school. I just wanted to sit in my room and play records or play my guitar).

The other thing the Ohio State Fair was known for, though, was its live entertainment. And the very first time I got to go to the fair, the summer when I was 11, guess who was playing there that night? Johnny Cash!

Oh my god, I wanted to see him so badly. But it was already late, the sun had gone down. My dad just wanted to go home.

There was a huge cement wall, the back-end of where all the seats were for the audience to sit in, and it blocked the actual stage from the midway, but you could hear perfectly. I remember standing outside that huge wall, the lights of the midway all lit up all around me, the sky beyond us black, and then the audience just roared, you know? Just roared. Their excitement was not to be believed. And then the jangly country guitar kicked in and I actually heard him shout, “Hello! I’m Johnny Cash!” and the audience went crazy.

And I couldn’t fucking see anything and I wanted so badly to go inside! My dad was dragging me by my arm, “Marilyn, come on, we’re going to the car!” I had tears in my eyes; I was begging him — and I was not a kid who ever begged for anything, ever. But I was begging my dad, “Please! I want to see Johnny Cash!”

“You’re not going to see Johnny Cash!” (I was too young to know then that Johnny Cash audiences consisted more of hard-drinking, chain-smoking, shit-kicking rowdy adults, and not shy 11-year-old girls.)

I really was devastated.

By then, at age 11, my favorite Johnny Cash song was “Folsom Prison Blues” recorded live at Folsom Prison. I had the single and I played it all the time and knew every word and every single guitar note on that record and every single place where the audience would cheer and holler.

(I knew he was singing in a prison, but I still thought of them as an “audience.”)

I loved Johnny Cash all through my life, even his Christian phase. I guess he was always a Christian, but he found Jesus and dropped drugs at one point and sang a lot of songs that were more in that vein for awhile.

When I was in the mental hospital, I had a serious drug problem. Sleeping pills — at my worst point, before I attempted suicide & was then put into the mental hospital, I could take as many as 15 sleeping pills in a day and still be walking around. I had built up a tolerance to them, you know. Nowadays, if I took 15 sleeping pills in a day, I would be dead pretty darn quickly.

By age 14, I started getting an endless supply of the pills for “free” — meaning that a sleazy dentist whose kids I used to babysit for, illegally kept thousands of secobarbitals in huge jugs in his upstairs linen closet. He was married but he was fucking around with my best friend, who was 16 at the time and also one of his babysitters (this was when we were all living in that 1970s swinging-sex apartment complex place that I blogged about recently) and part of getting us to not spill the beans to his wife that he was fucking one of the babysitters was giving us a massive amount of free drugs.

Married men did this a lot back then — maybe they still do it, I don’t know. But the wife would make plans to go out somewhere, and the husband would make plans to go out somewhere, so they’d need to hire a babysitter. But as soon as the wife was safely off doing her thing, the husband would circle back home and hit on the babysitter.

It happened to all of us babysitting-girls in the apartment complex. It happened to me, too, but it always totally creeped me out.  I knew exactly what was going on when the guys would suddenly “be home” but I would just play dumb. I’d say things, like, “Well, since you’re home now, I guess I can I go.” Once I left without getting paid because the guy really, really wanted me to stay and I just wanted to get the fuck out of there. Another time, I actually gave a man my 16-year-old girl friend’s phone number and told him to call her because I knew she didn’t mind fucking any of those guys & would come right over. And both of them — my girlfriend and the man whose kids I had just been babysitting — said, “Wow, thanks!”

I’m serious.

(If you’re too young to have been a teenager in the 1970s, I assure you it was off-the-charts fucked-up, because all the “adults” all over the whole fucking country were trying to “figure themselves out” at the very same time.)

I was told I was being taken to a mental hospital about 5 minutes before they told me to get in the car. You know, they sprang it on me so that I couldn’t run away. They told me to grab some clothes and that was it. But before I left my bedroom, in a total panic, I flushed hundreds of those pills down the toilet. I already had one arrest on my criminal record and I was afraid that if they found those pills while I was gone, I’d be sent to Reform School after the mental hospital…

I think you can see that my life was getting pretty awful and my range for reasoning was getting pretty narrow.

However, while in the hospital, I had to attend “school.” We will not discuss what school was like in a mental hospital.  But one afternoon, they made us listen to a tape recording of Johnny Cash urging us to not take drugs.

He talked about his life of pill-taking and how fucked up it had made his life. At his worst, he took something like 98 amphetamine tablets a day, and except for the fact that I was taking pills that put me in the other direction, I could totally relate to what he was saying. And after that, I really tried hard to not take any more pills. I really did. It took about ten more years to truly be able to stop all  the drugs, but I was at least trying after that. I really was. I didn’t trust any adults, at all, except a couple of my English teachers. So I never went to anyone for any kind of help. I always just tried to figure out my problems on my own.

But that’s how much I loved Johnny Cash. Because of him, I tried really hard to stop taking drugs. I did.

When I was in my 30s, in NYC, I finally got to see Johnny Cash live. He played at the Ritz, but this was when they’d moved the Ritz to the old Studio 54 space in midtown Manhattan.

He was older by then, of course, but Parkinson’s had not set in yet. He could still sing and play that guitar like nobody’s business. The incredible Marty Stuart (who was still his son-in-law at that point, I think) played in the band. It was an incredible show. I cried when he finally sang “Folsom Prison Blues” and I realized that I was a lot closer to him, standing there by the stage at the Ritz, then I would have been back in the bleachers at the Ohio State Fair. How cool, right?

Well, okay!! My meeting with the director yesterday was so good, gang. Just really, really good. And I need to get started on the rest of the play now. I have a lot of really complicated stuff to tackle in the current segment that I’m in.

Plus, there’s a new Red Hand Files newsletter from Nick Cave in my inbox!! So I need to go read that!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, wherever you are in the world!! Thanks for visiting, gang. I know you know what I’m leaving you with today!! Enjoy!! I love you guys. See ya!

“Folsom Prison Blues”

I hear the train a comin’
It’s rolling round the bend
And I ain’t seen the sunshine since I don’t know when
I’m stuck in Folsom prison, and time keeps draggin’ on
But that train keeps a rollin’ on down to San Antone

When I was just a baby my mama told me, “Son
Always be a good boy, don’t ever play with guns”
But I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die
When I hear that whistle blowing, I hang my head and cry

I bet there’s rich folks eating in a fancy dining car
They’re probably drinkin’ coffee and smoking big cigars
Well I know I had it coming, I know I can’t be free
But those people keep a movin’
And that’s what tortures me

Well if they freed me from this prison
If that railroad train was mine
I bet I’d move it on a little farther down the line
Far from Folsom prison, that’s where I want to stay
And I’d let that lonesome whistle blow my blues away

c – 1955 Johnny Cash

I’m Sorry, I Just Couldn’t Help It

I went googling for something entirely different, and that image came up and it sorta made my day…

(Yes! The title for my memoirs!!)

(No, I have no clue why I’m so immature, gang. Part of my questionable charm, I suppose.)

Anyway.

I had such a hard night.

Every so often the full moon stuff makes it impossible for me to sleep.  And last night, I really, really wanted to get a good night’s sleep because I got nothing new written on the play, even though I was at it until about 8pm last night. My brain just couldn’t focus. The residual of the migraine was still lurking all evening.

I felt like I was laying in bed for hours, just trying to let go of being human. Become some sort of empty vessel that just fills with sleep, you know? Instead, I was filling up with memories, that led to more & more memories.

It was during an August full moon in 1989 that my dad and I (my birth father) had a huge thingy on the phone and nothing was ever the same again between us after that.

I had been having a really hard time sleeping that night, too, because of a full moon, and then he called me on the phone. (He lived out in the desert in Nevada, and I lived in NYC, so it was still kind of early where he was.)

I was 28, he was 43. We were in love, but unlike my uncle and his daughter, we did not become incestuous. We came very, very close to it that summer, alone out there in his trailer in the middle of the desert, but somehow some sort of weird sanity prevailed. Nevertheless, we were still in love, and that night during the full moon in August, was the night he couldn’t take it anymore — the whole deadend street-ness of it all.

I’m not gonna ever forget that phone conversation. I’ve blogged about it before, but I’m not gonna go into it now. It was very disturbing, very sad.

Anyway. He didn’t actually stop speaking to me until several years later, when he was dying from cancer.  So then I remembered that Wayne and I (after we were married) went out to see my dad in Nevada, back in 1993.

And then I remembered that Wayne and I drove into Virginia City one day, by ourselves, and walked around. We went into the original Bucket of Blood Saloon (still standing  & still in business since 1875). We saw the famous Suicide Table, which had the losing poker hand spread out there, eternally.

The whole thing was really cool. I don’t know if it’s the same Bucket of Blood from “Stagger Lee” fame, but it is the original historic saloon from Old West days.

So then I wondered if we had taken any photos inside the saloon. Wayne was an avid picture taker (this was long before smart phones).  So I got out of bed and actually looked through old photos. But all I could find was a photo from the old Virginia City graveyard. (It was really cool.)

And then I also found a photo he took of me on our Honeymoon — on the Mississippi River! I had forgotten all about that. We were leaving Elvis territory in Memphis, heading into Johnny Cash territory in Arkansas…

Me on the Mississippi River in 1993, after we left Memphis. We were somewhere in Arkansas.

I remember that everything we ate in Arkansas tasted really good but absolutely everything was deep-fried. Wayne’s paternal family was from Arkansas, so a lot of his childhood was spent there.

This was his grandfather’s grocery store back in the 1920s. It had been abandoned for decades, but was still just standing there, outside of Paragould, Arkansas.

Wayne’s grandpa’s grocery store from the 1920s, in Arkansas. Photo taken in 1993.

We stayed in this really wonderful motel (tacky, run down; I think it cost about $17 a night), in Paragould, AR.  It’s heyday was long gone. It had a built-in swimming pool that was cracked and empty and had been, forever. The chain link fence surrounding it was nothing but rust. You could tell that, at one point, it had been a really ideal place.

When I wrote the short story “Til Death” many years later, in my mind, I placed it at that old rundown motel in Paragould. (The story is up there in The Vault section of the blog. It’s a story about a woman facing the onset of middle-age after her husband has been executed for murder. It’s erotic, though, so here’s the  disclaimer: Contains sexually explicit material and non-eroticized themes of rape, murder, and execution that could be upsetting to some readers.)

I guess, you know, looking over all this stuff, it’s no wonder I couldn’t get to sleep.

I also remembered that it was in another very tacky, cheap motel room on that same trip that I first heard Tish Hinojosa sing her haunting song, “Closer Still.”

I love a lot of her songs, but that one has always been my favorite. And suddenly, last night, I vividly recalled hearing it for the first time, while sitting on a bed, late at night, in some really cheap motel somewhere in the depths of America, with Wayne.

I was absolutely spellbound by Tish’s voice; by that song. Of course it made me think of Greg, and everything I ever lost that I had ever loved.

Time stopped for me the first time I heard that song. So, of course, I had to look it up on YouTube and lie in my bed in the dark, 26 years later, and break my heart all over again…

Eventually I fell asleep, but a really loud train went through and then rains came. I don’t know. Rough night.

And now, I really, really gotta get at it because I have a meeting with the director later this afternoon!!!!! Aaaarrrrrgh…. MUST GET COFFEE!!

Thanks for visiting, gang. I’m guessing you know what I’m gonna leave you with today! Have a terrific Tuesday, wherever you are in the world. I love you guys. See ya!

Closer Still

Closer still than e’er my arms have held you
Or the beating rhythm of my heart
I belong to you in frozen memories
And framed in gold is my desire

Closer still than starlight soft upon you
For though a million shine tonight
Deep inside is where one lonely forgotten
Dream is waiting here, closer still

Closer still is every word that takes me
To the fire burnin’ without end
In the moonlight pale a song is sayin’
That time will find us back again

Closer still our shadows must be swayin’
For I can almost hear you say
Deep inside is where one lonely forgotten
Dream is waiting here, closer still

c – 1992 Tish Hinojosa