Thoughts On A Post-Virus Rainy Morning

I’m trying not to get zealous and overdo it around here, but I do think the virus has moved out of my lungs, finally.

I awoke at 4:30am and laid there for awhile, feeling absolutely fantastic. My breathing was completely back to normal for the first time in 9 days. Plus, my bed felt really incredible. On the phone yesterday, my dad had persuaded me to change my sheets and wash the blankets, etc., because I’d been in the same bedding since before I’d gotten sick.

And then I realized I’d also been wearing the same darn chemise with the same white tee shirt on top of it for the entire time, too.

Even though I had found the energy everyday to take a 2-minute shower, I would just get right back into the same chemise, tee shirt, and collapse back into the same bed linens.  And I realized that my dad was right — it was probably a good idea to get up the energy to do some laundry.

Just FYI — even though, on the outside — or I should say “verbally” — my reaction to anything any man ever tells me to do is to automatically  say “no;” I am in fact intensely submissive by nature and, 99.9% of the time, I will first say “no” and then do exactly what I’m told.

MY DAD (on phone): “You really ought to wash those sheets, Marilyn. That virus is probably all over them.”

ME (on phone): “I don’t think so. I’m so tired. I don’t think the virus lives that long on fabric…” (gets out of bed, washes sheets, then washes everything else in sight)

(The only man I say “no” to and then steadfastly adhere to that intensely negative mindset is the second husband. When/if he ever advises me to do something, I not only automatically say “no,” but a filter type thing — called “You’re Not the Boss of Me” — also gets lowered down over the inside of my brain to ensure that no advise he is trying to give me permeates my consciousness in any way whatsoever.)

Okay. Anyway. All those clean sheets and blankets and the clean tee shirt/chemise helped me get the best sleep I’d had in awhile.

And now I’ve officially switched to the Spring/Summer sheets, too — the 125,000-thread-count pure cotton sheets from Italy. So it was really just a great night’s sleep, and I woke up breathing. Like I used to do 9 days ago.

I don’t know how you guys are about Easter (assuming you celebrate it at all), but for me, even though it’s a joyous holiday, it’s also a day where I do a lot of thinking about my life. Meaning, if the Resurrection is telling me anything at all, it’s telling me to look at my life before I die. Is this how I want to be living it? If not, then here’s yet another chance to try to get it right.

Usually, every single darn year, my answer is “no, this is not how I want to be living my life,” and in this case, the word “no” is not because I have a serious issue with male authority. It’s because whenever I’m pressed to really take account of my life, I’m simply never satisfied with how I’m living it.

The older I get, the tighter the focus gets on “my work.” If I die today, and leave this huge amount of unfinished work behind, it would be okay. Because I honestly believe that we get to finish in the Afterlife whatever we left unfinished here.

However, I also believe really strongly that I didn’t come here to be physical and to start a bunch of projects, just to go back over there (wherever there is) and finish them there, you know? Why bother to come here at all then, right? So I am hopeful that, before I die, I’ll finish all these many projects I have that are half-finished. Even if I don’t get them out into the world, I’d like to at least leave a tidy stack of finished novels, memoirs, stories, micro-short screenplays, and plays on my desk, with a little handwritten note to my sister on the top of the stack: Please take care of these. Thank you.

(Plus, I still really, really want to record that album with Peitor, of maybe 14 or 15 of my favorite songs that I wrote when I was a singer-songwriter, too.) (Readers of this lofty blog, perhaps recall that back when a VP at Columbia Records was trying to get me signed there, Peitor produced a demo for me in his studio that I absolutely loved. He made my songs & my voice sound like nothing else I had ever heard before; I really felt he captured a certain magic in my songs. But the VP at Columbia Records famously said to me, “Why are you singing like this? I can’t do anything with this.” So I’d really like a chance to go back into the studio for real this time, and have Peitor produce all of my best songs. Maybe title it: This is Why I’m Singing Like This, Even If You Can’t Do Anything With It…)

So, since it was Easter yesterday, I was thinking about this stuff — my life. And realizing that I’m going to be 60 in about 14 seconds, so I really need to make a commitment to trying harder to get this stuff done.

Part of the challenge is that most of my projects aim a little higher than I can reach, so I always have to evolve as a writer while I’m in the process of doing the writing.  My vision for what I want to achieve with my work is always way out there beyond my grasp, so I am always in the process of finding my way.  (When I first began writing Neptune & Surf in 1994, inspired by an extremely long day/night of drinking in Coney Island with Holly Lane, I had never written anything longer than short stories.  I know for a fact that I re-wrote the opening page to that book 60 or 70 times before I could even undertake writing the rest of the book; I was trying to learn how to write.)

Well, anyway, I decided yesterday that for however long I continue to be alive over here on this side of reality, my mind is just going to have to work harder. Find better words. String them together in a better way. And then if I die anyway and nothing’s finished, well, I’ll worry about it when I get to the Afterlife.

On other topics — I am now deeply into Love in the Time of Cholera and just loving every moment of that book. It is indeed better to be reading it during not only a pandemic, but also to be in some weird form of all-consuming love that has no roadmap whatsoever. It’s good to be reminded that for all time, throughout everything, people have managed to love unconditionally with no hope of grasping any conclusion, while life just went barreling on and tumbling down all around them.

So. I’m learning to just let each day be whatever it has to be.

The Nick Cave art book, Stranger Than Kindness, is just really interesting — thought-provoking; indeed a ponderer’s paradise. Although his handwriting is often just indescribably indecipherable. Lots of original versions of song lyrics are in the book.  And I really love seeing what writers write, re-write, re-visit, and then compare it to what was ultimately chosen as the finished vision.

I’m not super well-informed about The Birthday Party era of Nick Cave’s career. I have the Boys Next Door album (CD) that has the song “Shivers” on it and I think that album is so good. It really captures that era of music so well. The songs are very good, too, when placed directly in that whole scene. But I didn’t know anything about the Boys Next Door or the The Birthday Party when I first discovered Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds in 1985. I was so blown away by the Bad Seeds stuff that I hit the ground running with that. (Plus, it was really difficult and expensive to get import albums back then, even in NYC, and I was extremely poor back then.) Over recent years, I have since watched various videos of The Birthday Party on YouTube and they are really good songs.

I also have had the book King Ink, since forever. (Scarily enough, I now see that I have had it for 31 years now. It is really extremely difficult at this moment to wrap my mind around that number.) I remember the day I bought it so perfectly. I was in St. Mark’s Bookstore, on St. Mark’s Place in the East Village. I had no money to speak of, but I was planning to buy some of those underground zines that I used to love — and I got published in several of them, too, btw.

My eyesight must have been amazing back then because I remember the whole sky cracking open when I suddenly saw, way over at the front of the store, way up high, behind the cash registers, far, far from where anyone could possibly touch it or steal it, there was a book written by Nick Cave.

I was, like, holy fucking moly. And I put everything down that I was thinking I was going to buy and went directly to the cashier and asked him if that book was by Nick Cave the songwriter, and he said yes, and then I told him I had to have that book. He looked at me dubiously because he had to climb up on a ladder to retrieve it and he said sort of disgustedly, “It’s $25…”

I was quite taken aback by that amount because I truly couldn’t afford that amount, but I still had to have it, so I made the guy get it down for me, and I bought it without even knowing what the fuck it was. It was the only copy of the book that they had (it was an import from England) and I felt like the cashier was going to grab it right back from me because I’m sure it was written all over my face: oh my god, I can’t afford this. So I bought it. (And we won’t discuss the myriad insane things I had to scramble around and do back in those days to try to scrape together my fucking rent even without buying a $25 book.)

Well, long story even longer — all The Birthday Party song lyrics were included in King Ink. So I have at least known the lyrics to their songs since 1989. But I didn’t know the music to them until years later.

Their songs are very, very interesting. Intense, dark, funny, and, well, intense. And a couple of the original handwritten lyrics are included in Stranger Than Kindness. So I was thinking about those songs a lot yesterday, too. I played “Mutiny in Heaven” on YouTube several times. While it’s obviously dark, I think it’s just an incredible song.Unbelievable. (It is down below the photograph.)

Anyway. In the photo from one of my bookcases in my family room just now, you can see that I thought it was worth the $25 I didn’t have — 6 moves and 31 years later.  (Oh, and down at the bottom of that horizontal stack, is a book that contains the script and some movie stills from Francois Truffaut’s famous film, The 400 Blows. I took the book out of the local library when I was 15 and loved that book (and the film itself) so much, that I wound up stealing that book from the library and was not allowed to use the library ever again. But you can see that I thought that book was worth it, too — 14 moves and 45 years later.)

Okay, see ya, gang. I gotta scoot! Thanks for visiting. I love you!!

 

“Mutiny In Heaven”

Well ah jumpt! and fled this fucken heap on doctored wings
Mah flailin pinions, with splints and rags and crutches!
(Damn things nearly hardly flap)
Canker upon canker upon one million tiny punctures
That look like…
Long thin red ribbons draped across the arms of a lil mortal girl
(Like a ground -plan of Hell)
Curse these smartin strings! These fucken ruptures!
Enough! Enough is enough!
(If this is Heaven ah’m bailin out)
If this is Heaven ah’m bailin out
Ah caint tolerate this ol tin-tub
So fulla trash and rats! Felt one crawl across mah soul
For a seckon there , as thought as wassa back down in the ghetto!
(Rats in Paradise! Rats in Paradise!)
Ah’m bailin out! There’s a mutiny in Heaven!

Ah wassa born…
And Lord shakin, even then was dumpt into some icy font
Like some great stinky unclean!
From slum-chuch to slum-church, ah spilt mah heart
To some fat cunt behind a screen…

Evil poppin eye presst up to the opening
He’d slide shut the lil perforated hatch…at night mah body
Blusht
To the whistle of the birch
With a lil practice ah soon learnt to use in on mahself
Punishment?! Reward!! Punishment?! Reward!!
Well, ah tied on…percht on mah bed ah was…
Sticken a needle in mah arm…

Ah tied off! Fucken wings burst out mah back
(Like ah was cuttin teeth!!)
Ah took off!!!
(Rats in Paradise! Rats in Paradise!)
There’s a mutiny in Heaven!

Oh Lord, ah git down on mah knees
(Ah git down on mah knees and start to pray)

Wrapped in mah mongrel wings, ah nearly freeze
In the howlin wind and drivin rain
(All the trash blowin round ‘n’ round)
From slum-heaven into town
Ah take mah tiny pain and rollin back mah sleeve
(Roll anna roll anna roll anna roll)
Ah yank the drip outa mah vein! UTOPIATE! Ah’m bailin out!
UTOPIATE!
If this is Heaven ah’m bailin out!
Mah threadbare soul teems with vermin and louse
Thoughts come like a plague to the head…in God’s house!
Mutiny in Heaven!
(Ars infectio forco Dio)
To the plank!
(Rats in Paradise! Rats in Paradise!)
Ah’m bailin out!
(Hail Hypuss Dermio Vita Rex!)
Hole inna ghetto! Hole inna ghetto!
(Scabio Murem per Sanctum…Dio, Dio, Dio)

©  1983 Nick Cave, Mick Harvey

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