“best friends, collaborators, and business partners”

This morning, I was thinking about the concept of “best friend.”

I was thinking of it because Keanu Reeves has a “best friend” — the coolest woman, ever.  She’s an artist. I can’t remember her name now, but she’s absolutely totally interesting. There is an amazingly powerful PR campaign out there in the world, strongly discouraging us from thinking that the two are dating. Instead, they are “best friends, collaborators, and business partners.” (They were all over Instagram yesterday, too, because of that art museum gala fashion fundraiser thing in Los Angeles on Saturday.)

And they always look indescribably happy when they are out & about together, which seems to be all the time. And they are always holding hands and stuff.

They do look extremely happy and they are just intensely interesting looking people. And I was thinking this morning how it is infinitely more appealing to be best friends, collaborators and business partners with someone, than to be “dating.”

(I hate dating. I am not a “dater.” I am not someone who has ever gone out on “dates.” If I’m out to dinner with you, you’re either my best friend, collaborator and/or business partner, or we’re planning on having sex after we eat, or you’ve called me on the phone and I got the distinct impression we were going to move in together and get married, so I agreed to meet you for dinner first.) (That is my way of explaining that when Wayne and I were introduced by mutual friends at a Christmas party in Brooklyn Heights in 1991, I had the distinct impression he and I were going to get married. I came to this impression not because I felt like he and I would fall in love, but because of the fact that, in those first few moments that we were speaking to each other, he mentioned Emmylou Harris and Patti Smith in the same sentence — two of the most profound female influences on my life as a songwriter to that point (and he didn’t know that yet). So when he took down my phone number, and then called me extremely late one night and asked me out on a date, non-dater that I was, I still said okay. By summer, we were living together; by the following spring, we were married.) (Perhaps you can see why I avoid dating; the commitment is just huge.)

Anyway, I digress!! I was lying in bed in the dark this morning, thinking about the concept of “best friend,” and then it occurred to me that I had missed the 20th anniversary of the death of my best friend in the world, Paul — back on October 22nd.

I don’t think this is a bad thing. I never, ever forget his birthday, which means more to me than the day he died. But back on October 22nd, a couple of weeks ago, I kept wondering why the date meant something to me; why was it sticking out in my mind all day? October 20th was Tom Petty’s birthday.  October 23rd was the anniversary of Bunny’s death (one of my sweet cats). But why would October 22nd mean anything?

But this morning in the dark, I finally remembered.  And it was hard to believe that it had really been 20 years.  The day he died was a gorgeous fall day in Manhattan. I had been working all day in my business partner’s apartment — she lived 20 blocks from me, a straight shot down Riverside Drive, so I always walked to her apartment and back. And that day was so beautiful that, after work, I decided to walk home through Riverside Park, along the Hudson River.

At one point, I stopped and just looked out at the river and I couldn’t believe how much profound joy I felt, a sense of peace I had never felt before. Life seemed unspeakably beautiful; New York City  itself filled me with so much joy, especially on that gorgeous October day.

And then, a couple of hours later, Paul’s mom called me from the nursing  home and told me that Paul had died.

I know the news pierced me and I cried, but mostly I recalled the feeling I’d had walking along the river in Riverside Park, and I knew then that had been Paul saying goodbye to me. He always loved visiting me in NYC; equally in my days of poverty and in my days of success.

So when I think of Paul’s actual death, I think of that gorgeous day and that profound sense of peace and joy. However, the 7 years it took him to die (from AIDS), were a whole other story. I nearly lost my mind with grief over what he was going through and what was going to lie ahead for me — the rest of my life without a best friend. I drank and smoked really heavily that whole time, hardly ate,  lost a ton of weight. Stopped the songwriting totally, abruptly broke up the band. Went into my room and started writing intense erotic fiction.

By the time he died, he and I had already worked it through as best we could: he was leaving and I was going to be left behind and I was going to survive somehow.

I did, of course. And even though Peitor comes close to being that type of best friend for me over the course of all these years, it is not the same. Peitor and I met as adults in NYC; we were both already in the music business, dealing with the stress of daily “life in NYC” in a huge way. Whereas Paul and I had met at 17, in high school in Ohio — doing high school plays (he designed and built all the sets and then went on to do that as a career in professional theater and in the movies); all of our dreams were still ahead of us. Everything was brand new. That part of life doesn’t come again. (Not that it should — a lot of what was brand new at age 17 truly sucked.)

This morning, while it struck me as sort of profound that I had missed the 20th anniversary of my best friend’s death, it nevertheless seemed extremely cool to me that Keanu has such an interesting “best friend, collaborator and business partner.” If you have to be famous and wear labels, those labels are so much more life-affirming than the label of “dating.” True best friends are more valuable than anything else in the whole world.

Okay. So here we are. Monday. I seriously need to tackle this ending of Tell My Bones. A lot of intense plot points have to entwine, explode and yet, ultimately, be joyful. So I’m gonna get back at it. (And likely eat a lot of dark chocolate — I do that when the mind gets too intense even for coffee!)

I hope you have a really wonderful day out there, wherever you are in the world. And if your best friend is still here with you in the physical, well, I don’t know — just enjoy the heck out of yourselves!

I’m still in Art Garfunkel’s Angel Clare mode around here. I leave you with another truly lovely song, but it’s one that used to just break my heart when I was a young girl. I identified with it way too much. But it is still beautiful. Thanks for visiting, gang. I love you guys! See ya!

“Mary Was An Only Child”

Mary was an only child,
Nobody held her, nobody smiled.
She was born in a trailer, wretched and poor,
And she shone like a gem in a five and dime store.

Mary had no friends at all,
Just famous faces pinned to the wall.
All of them watched her, none of them saw
That she shone like a gem in a five and dime store.

And if you watch the stars at night,
And find them shining equally bright,
You might have seen Jesus and not have known what you saw.
Who would notice a gem in a five and dime store?

c – 1973 Albert Hammond, Mike Hazlewood

A Most Perfect Morning!

Man, it felt great.

As always, I awoke several times during the night, but this time I kept waking up, knowing there was something I was excited about, and then I’d remember: Oh yeah! I get an extra hour in the dark!!

It just felt so wonderful — like it was an hour that belonged to me and to no one else in the world. And my bed was so snuggly. And it’s not as if I did a single other thing differently this morning then I ever do: I got out of bed at 5am, fed the cats, ate my breakfast while listening to music. Then watched as Huckleberry promptly threw up her entire breakfast all over the kitchen floor…

Huckleberry sitting outside my bedroom door, earlier in the summer. She throws up a lot. But when a cat is as sweet as she is, you just deal with it…

So my morning is pretty much just like any other morning,  but that extra hour we got still felt like it belonged just to me.

And now I’m at my desk and life resumes!!

Before I forget, a friend of mine, Roger Gaess, a long-time  journalist and photographer who lives in Brussels, Belgium now, just wrote a new book. Whatever Comes My Way: Travels in the Netherlands. It’s on his own imprint — Aurora Editions. It’s about, oddly enough, his travels in the Netherlands.

Roger Gaess, Whatever Comes My Way: Travels in the Netherlands

I have not had time to read past the preface yet, but part of his opening paragraph, where he explains why he left New York, I couldn’t have agreed with more:

Gentrification had hit New York like a cancer, eating relentlessly away at its diversity and culture, leaving large parts of the city habitable for only the moneyed and dull…

Roger and I were colleagues back in New York, and like so many of us from those days, we wound up leaving it after the true backlash of 9/11 sank in — meaning the rapidly downward-spiraling economy there, and then the only thing people felt safe in investing in anymore after the devastation of 9/11 was real estate and so the cost of everything in NYC just skyrocketed and everything that had any character was torn down to make room for Disney-esque type monoliths, making New York safe for stupefyingly wealthy families everywhere.

Anyway, Roger got married and moved to Europe. I got divorced and moved to Easton, Pennsylvania and rented some rooms in an old Victorian house on the Delaware River (where I wrote Freak Parade and three other novels, some memoirs and probably about 20 short stories, before moving back to Ohio because my adoptive mother got very sick, and for some ill-informed reason I thought she needed me but I was terrifically misinformed about that and then my whole entire life unraveled into a great big bunch of awful Hell that I am only now recovering from…) But Roger and I have kept in touch! For one thing, he travels constantly and even dropped in to visit me a few times, even once at the house I had before this one. However, Roger is primarily a photo-journalist and travels into war zones and equally threatening, non touristy places, so his travels in the Netherlands is not a basic “tourist guide.” I am very eager to read it.

My Inner Being journaling this morning was very interesting. I’ll quote it in part in case it also resonates for any of you. (And yes, my Inner Being uses italics a lot! Just like me!):

“Allow for freedom. Allow choices. You are entitled to choices. You are not a prisoner of a rigid reality. It flows. Allow BEING-NESS to answer your call, you request, your perceived need. Allow the energy of BEING-NESS to be there for you. Do not pinpoint how, where, or why. Simply request and allow it to flow. It will flow regardless. Allowing it to flow unhindered brings rapidly to you experiences you prefer. There is nothing to fear in simple allowing.”

I just thought that was so cool.

Okay! I leave you with this wonderful old gem I was listening to this morning. If you’re too young to know this album, it was a monster hit for Art Garfunkel back in the mid-1970s: Angel Clare. The production on this album was just exquisite. I was always more of a Paul Simon kind of gal, because  big bunches of words and constant anxiety are usually more my thing. However, Art Garfunkel does indeed have a really lush voice. (They were Simon & Garfunkel, in case you’re too young to even know that!)

(For a very brief time, when I was a singer-songwriter in NYC, I was managed by Art Garfunkel’s manager– through a VP at Columbia Records, who was trying very hard to get me signed at that label. But the manager would often say to me that I was “not Art Garfunkel” — meaning that I was indescribably unknown and therefore not entitled to anything!!)

Okay, anyway! I leave you with my breakfast-listening music from this morning, “Traveling Boy.” If you’ve never heard it, listen to it!! It is so beautiful. The whole album is like this.

All righty! Thanks for visiting, gang. Enjoy your beautiful Sunday, wherever you are in the world. I love you guys! See ya!

“Traveling Boy”

Wake up, my love, beneath the midday sun, alone, once more alone.
This traveling boy was only passing through, but he will always think of you.

One night of love beside a strange young smile, as warm as I have known.
A traveling boy and only passing through, but one who’ll always think of you.

Take my place out on the road again, I must do what I must do.
Yes, I know we were lovers but a drifter discovers…

A traveling boy and only passing through, but one who’ll always think of you.

Take my place out on the road again, I must do what I must do.
Yes, I know we were lovers but a drifter discovers
That a perfect love won’t always last forever.

I won’t say that I’ll be back again because time alone will tell,
so no goodbyes for one just passing through, but one who’ll always think of you.

No goodbyes…

c- 1973 Paul Williams, Roger Nichols

Everything is just so much better!

I’m feeling lots better today. I’m not 100% yet, though. For some reason, any time I try to eat something, I feel like I’m going to throw it right back up. But then I don’t.

But I did get a lot of sleep, so that felt great.

I’ve also made incredible progress on the revisions of the play. Still have some really challenging segments left— but I am almost at the end of the play, and the stuff that I’ve done over the last couple days, I’m just really, really happy with. So it is almost done.

Speaking of the play and, therefore of Helen… I listened to Wanda’s radio interview that announced Helen’s 100th birthday celebration at the church in Mayfield— she talked a bit about the play and the DJ said that Kevin Connell has written it — which I found amusing because I think people still just naturally assume that when they see a man’s name, then the man did everything. And the DJ doesn’t seem to have seen my name at all. (Kevin is the director. We are both mentioned on the splash page of the website.)

In the old days, that would have made me nuts, but nowadays, it matters more to me that the play at least gets mentioned — and they got the name of the play correct! (Wanda got my name wrong — she’s known me 7 years already and still thinks my name is Mary Jane. You’d be surprised just how many people think my name is Mary Jane.)

Anyway. Helen had her birthday celebration today. I couldn’t attend — it’s a 12 hour drive from here. But we did send flowers. I hope it was an incredible time for everybody involved.

For no reason whatsoever, here’s a photo Peitor sent me of himself and his husband, Graham, playing Clue at their dining room table in West Hollywood on Halloween!! I wish I could have been there!! It’s been almost a year since I was with Peitor in LA.

Peitor is on our right and Graham, on the left!

I love playing Clue, by the way. It’s actually the only board game I like.  I’m not a big game player. (I guess you could take that a few ways! And they’d all be true…)

Okay, as much as I love summer and all that, tomorrow is my favorite day of the year — when we set our clocks back and get an extra hour of darkness in the morning!! I get up so early as it is that it’s kind of awesome to have yet another hour of darkness to lay in bed and drink coffee!!! And contemplate my Muse. Yay!!

Well I might be mistaken, but it did seem that by late yesterday, the free downloading of Ribbon of Darkness had ceased. I do appreciate that people wanted to read that. But still. And now it’s here on the site, so you can read it for free anyway.  I can’t believe it’s been 30 years since I met my real dad, and 20 years now since he died, at the age of 54. As difficult as all that stuff was back then, I’m glad I have that story to preserve my own memories, if nothing else.

All righty! I’m gonna study my Italian now. Enjoy what’s left of Saturday wherever you are in the world!! Thanks for visiting, gang. I love you guys. See ya.

Ciao!!!

My Morning Thus Far…

If you can imagine this, I am just now getting out of bed. It’s almost 10am. Unheard of around here.

Obviously, I am not feeling well…

I’m hoping it’s just some bit of nothing that I can sleep off — especially if my cats (as pictured above) continue to bring me tea in bed! I should be right as rain in no time!

I’m going to say one more thing about yesterday, and then I’m going to drop it. Because there are too many ways to look at things nowadays and I don’t want to just be some bitch. But that thing yesterday with some gaming guy putting Ribbon of Darkness into a torrent. It’s one thing to want to share something you like with some friends, or whatever. But by yesterday afternoon, nearly 3000 people had downloaded Ribbon of Darkness (a copyrighted novella) for free.

It’s just irritating.

The fact that it got 4.8 out of 5 stars by 2700 people, of course, made it easier to digest…Still. It’s just a drop in the bucket of all these things I have to see happen on the Internet — all over the world — that I can’t do anything about.

On a very different note:

Yesterday, Wanda Stubblefield, out in Mayfield, Kentucky, did a radio interview regarding Helen LaFrance’s 100th birthday, which is tomorrow.  If you’re interested, you can listen to her interview online here. (Even though Helen is in a nursing home, Wanda is her caretaker and connection to the outside world. She’s a wonderful human being and also has a part in the PLAY, which I must try to work on here.)

Okay, I’m gonna scoot. Thanks for visiting. I love you guys. See ya.