Don’t Puke — It’s Art!

Jesus Christ — what a fucking day.

I have spent the entire day at my desk, working on In the Shadow of Narcissa (the memoir about my early childhood). Or trying to.

Primarily, I was just going to reformat it today from web pages into a traditional manuscript format, but then I realized that I need to re-write the opening segment somehow, because it sounds more like a prologue right now. I’m not sure if I want to keep it as a prologue. Ideally, I want it to have the present-tense approach that the other segments have except that the first segment happens when I am only about 18 months old. And even though I remember when it happened, I’m not sure how to write from the POV of myself at 18 months old.

When I gave it a try, though, I discovered that putting myself directly into that headspace of myself at 18 months (the first time my adoptive mother physically abused me) really upset me and I spent several hours after that just wanting to throw up.  And wondering why the fuck am I writing this damn thing? Why revisit all this? But also feeling like it’s my life and all I really know how to do is create from my life. And for whatever reason, I feel it’s really necessary for me to write this little book.

My childhood — it had moments that were so beautiful. And they were the last beautiful moments I had until I got well into my 50s. Which, of course, sucks. So I want to write this darn book. Process the whole darn thing. But it also kept making me feel like vomiting.

And I also realized today that Thug Luckless is me, as well — in the sense that he’s this robot on the outside that becomes this deeply sentient thing on the inside, through sexual contact with a whole fucked-up town, whether he wants it or not. You know — I saw weird parallels with my own life. I’m okay with that, though, because he’s a character.  So I can “act out” through him. Whereas the Narcissa book is a memoir. It’s me. When I first began writing it this past summer, it didn’t bother me like this. And it’s really just this opening segment that is upsetting me so much today.

As the sun was going down, even though — or maybe because — it was getting pretty chilly out, I decided to take a walk. Just get air, you know? To stop this desire to vomit.

And, my god, I love this town out here in the middle of nowhere. First off, I headed directly across the street from my house and then stopped in the middle of the train tracks. I looked west and saw the sun going down in the distance, over those tracks that just go on and on through the rest of the entire state. It was so fucking beautiful. All the old houses in stark outline along the tracks. And the trees. The clear sky with those streaks of amber and orange, sinking way down.  And the tracks receding forever into it. A couple stars coming out. Amazing. I wished I’d brought my phone to take a picture.

And then everywhere I looked as I walked, I was just struck by the age of this town and how stunning it looked at that specific hour of twilight. Everything so darn quiet. Such old houses. Such unexpected architecture. And the sidewalk is so close to the houses that you can  look right into them. (A lot of the sidewalks are still the old brick ones from well over a hundred years ago.) I also noticed tonight that a lot of people here have dogs.

In one house, the front room light was on, the curtains were open. I saw an old man sitting at his dining table, writing something. He had tons of books everywhere.  And two boxers were right there in the window, staring at me! They startled me, because I saw the man in the background first, before I saw the two dogs. You know how they get so tense when they stare at you. And suddenly, there they were. I just love boxers.

So many dogs, watching me along the way. Too cute.

And then I turned back onto Basin Street, heading in the direction of my house, and I suddenly realized — wow, there it is. On the corner. Lights on down in my kitchen, lights on up in my bedroom. My home, you know? I finally have a home — and peace from that mercilessly mean woman who raised me.

Somehow, I am going to write this book. For heaven’s sake, it’s only going to be about 40 pages… and it deals with her in what I consider her “best ” years. I’ve got to figure out how to deal with this.

Well, when I went back inside, I sat at the kitchen table and read a new issue of Mojo that came in the mail yesterday. And watched a couple more of those old episodes of Black Books and laughed really hard. And also saw that I can stream Rocketman and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood now– two movies that I really wanted to see. So that made me happy.

Then I went back up to my room, to my desk, trying to figure out how to approach that first prologue/segment of In the Shadow of Narcissa without losing my mind, and right then, as I sat down, a little ladybug was scurrying across a photo of Nick Cave that’s sitting on my desk.

The little beetle was just there, walking across his face. And of course, it instantly reminded me of one of his Red Hand Files letters from the summertime, when he wrote about ladybugs in connection to his dead son, Arthur, and how believing in something (in signs) helps us survive.

So, I took it as a sign, you know? I tried to take a picture of it before it walked off and went down the side of my desk:

The ladybug is there on the left, getting ready to walk off of the picture.

So that’s been my day. Illuminating, I guess. I’ll try to deal with the memoir again tomorrow, before I go off to meet with the director and focus on Tell My Bones.

And now, I’m gonna go crash on the bed, turn down the lights and stream something.

I hope Tuesday was good for you, gang, wherever you are in the world. I love you guys. See ya.

Part of Basin Street, during a full moon this past September.

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