Autumn, right here!

I am, of course, still psyched about the upcoming trip to New York City, especially since I really love autumn in New York. However, it is quite autumnal right here. I took this photo of my backyard a few minutes ago:

 

My backyard
My backyard

Here is a shot from farther back, so you can see my 60-year-old maple tree that the developers will be cutting down (along with everything else you see in these photos!):

autumntreeThis has been a  pretty good day. I didn’t have to do a darn thing for anyone else today, so I cleaned house a little, did laundry, took a walk. Last night, I completed my Pastoral Care/Hospital Visitation Training. Next, I will be volunteering with Chaplains either in hospitals or hospices, until I get enough experience and can work on my own as a minister in nursing homes.  (I can’t be a Chaplain myself until I’ve had 17 trillion tons of schooling, including Graduate school, and then a bunch more credit hours in visitation training, of which I’ve just accumulated 16. It will be indescribably hard to accumulate those additional hours and get all that higher & expensive education while writing a TV series and musicals for Off-Broadway theaters in Manhattan, so we shall probably not be attaining that label of Chaplain anytime soon…) But it felt good to be finished with the course and to get yet another certificate, suitable for framing!

On a more somber note, the first death row prisoner that I had been able to give pastoral encouragement to, was executed a few weeks ago, in Texas. Giving any type of pastoral care to death row prisoners is very difficult. I am against the death penalty and always have been. For much of my life as an American, the death penalty was not legal. But now, it is completely different in this country. Executions here are now a fact of “life”. Oddly, I can deal with that. What’s been hardest, is knowing that as a minister, as a representative of Christ on Earth, forgiveness is mandated for everyone. It’s my actual job to assure people that they are forgiven –no matter what, even if they don’t accept Christ, or believe in him (although a whole lot of death row inmates do.) I won’t go into a whole lot of detail with this topic, but I’m guessing you’re well aware of some of the atrocities people commit to get themselves a cell on Death Row. All of that stuff has to be forgiven. It’s one thing to know it intellectually. It is another thing to speak with men who have murdered women, men, defenseless babies, etc., etc., and assure each of them that he is forgiven — and not just be mouthing the words, either.  (But that’s what prayer is for — guidance through that mire between forgiving and condoning. I pray an awful lot.) This is a photo of Willie Trottie. He wrote a letter and filled out a questionnaire for the Gawker website this past spring. He was executed a few weeks ago.

Willie Trottie, executed in Texas, September 2014
Willie Trottie, executed in Texas, September 2014

There is another inmate on Death Row in Texas that I speak with in my capacity as a minister. This past summer, I was looking up information about him online, for some reason that I no longer recall, and I discovered that a woman in Amsterdam is auctioning off some of his personal letters on a web site devoted to auctioning the personal effects of murderers on Death Row.  She’s doing it to make money off people who like to collect that stuff — I guess because something in their souls is turning to garbage.   (You know, buying & selling the personal effects of murderers doesn’t just trivialize the murderer, but also the people they killed. But guess what? We gotta forgive them to! All the wackies on the Internet, gang — forgiven!!)

Okay, on that delightful note, I think I’m going to make some popcorn, kick back and watch a movie. Maybe an old-fashioned Halloween movie, the kind that were creepy but not necessarily scary! At all. I just want to have a little fun before this glorious Tuesday is over.

Thanks for visiting, gang. I hope you’re having a great day, wherever you are!

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me….Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.   (Matthew 25:35-40)

christpantocratorsm
Christ Pantocrator, 4th Century
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Don’t you just love girls??!!

I do! I think little girls are amazing. They are lethal, they are dangerous, they are awesome, and they are usually way too trusting — which is why it all starts to come crashing down for most little girls by age 11, when everyone starts telling them to be something they’re not, and, being so trusting, little girls try to start following the most bizarre cultural rules imaginable. Hence, so many girls who are out of their freakin’ minds… Including moi.

That said, though. I was researching some stuff about Brownies & Girl Scouts from the 1960s, which was when I was a Brownie, and I found this. I thought it was hysterical, so I share it with you:

girlscout_motivation

Being born in 1960, I think I came from the first generation of American girls who were told they could do or become anything they wanted to do or be, and at the very same time were told by everybody that whatever it was they were trying to do or be simply wasn’t done by “nice girls” so, if you did or became what you wanted, watch out, because no guy was going to want to marry you.

I am so serious.

Luckily, I was also one of those girls who marveled at the stupidity of a remark like that, and also was not a huge fan of getting married anyway, but the constant oppression of the minds of girls still wound up making me completely bonkers. Certifiable. I mean it.

However, as the indisputably awesome S.E. Hinton (who perhaps used initials in her pen name back then to hide the fact that she was a girl) so aptly put it in 1971: That was then, this is now. I am well into my 54th year, turning down marriage proposals right & left, and still doing whatever the heck I want.

Which reminds me — FANTASTIC breakthroughs have finally come on the re-writes of the TV pilot and on the screenplay I’m writing with Kevin. I will talk more about that some other time because I have one last paper to write for school this afternoon before I can kick back and relax. (And I seriously want to kick back and relax, gang.)

Okay! Hope your Sunday has been sensational, wherever you are! Thanks for visiting, folks. I leave you with this tribute — and I leave it to you to decide if it is delightful or down right delusional. All right!

Autumn in New York, Baby!

Yes, I finally know the dates of my trip to NYC to begin working on that incredible musical that I am so excited about!! It will be in just a few weeks, gang, so I will get a chance to be back in New York in the fall, my favorite time of year.

I will be staying in a hotel around Midtown-ish, so hopefully I will get some free minutes to spend in Central Park among all those splendid trees.

Autumn in Central Park
Autumn in Central Park

However, I might actually be too busy to get a chance to do that this trip. We shall see!

This play is shaping up to be just incredible, folks. I can’t wait until I am at liberty to talk more about it.  It is a one-woman show about an African-American actress — this is not the Pearl Bailey play. That one is next in line. But it is looking like this current show will occupy me/us for a few years, if all goes according to plan!

Yes, I know. You’re wondering how on earth I have time to do that, while still being in Divinity school full time, and trying to come up with a final-ish draft of the TV pilot — oh, and, like work at all my 17 million part time jobs… Here, I’ll give you a hint. (That video explains how I do it.) At least school is almost over.  Only about 8 more weeks.

Plus, “that guy” up in the Hudson Valley is going to try to get a train into the city to see me for 14 seconds! Oh, I am so excited! I cannot wait.

Meanwhile, life here is going pretty good.  Yesterday was a gorgeous fall day. I celebrated by going to my favorite grocery store: Aldi’s! They have tons of autumnal delights right now, like pumpkin frozen waffles, pumpkin seed tortilla chips, pumpkin soup, pumpkin-chipotle pasta sauce, pumpkin spice coffee, pumpkin spice tea, special fall wines — oh, and they actually have PUMPKINS, too! Mostly, I bought baking supplies because I love to bake this time of year. I’m not exactly sure when I think I’m going to have time to do all this baking, but we will find out!

Here's me, with a freshly baked dish of silverware (??!)
Here’s me, with a freshly baked dish of silverware (??!)

Okay!! Well, I gotta get crackin’ around here! Thanks for visiting, folks. I hope you have a terrific Thursday, wherever you are and whatever exciting thing you’re doing! I leave you with this romantic  incentive to get yourselves to the Big Apple this fall! We can wave to each other! All right, see ya!

 

 

Some of my favorite days are coming!

I was hoping to celebrate my return to this blog by posting a spiffy selfie of me in my brand new Marilyn Monroe glasses! However… when I went to pick them up this morning, the prescription in the left eye was off so they won’t be really ready for another week or so. But they did look great on me for a couple moments!

Well — welcome October! My favorite month of the year. And fall is my favorite season.

I love when the leaves turn, and I even love the gloomy days when it rains — like today. There is something about an autumn rain that is just so pretty, in my opinion. And last night, the absolute moment I came home from my pastoral hospital visitation training, the world cracked open with a really impressive thunderstorm.  It kept storming for quite awhile, so I turned out the lights,  lit candles, and crawled into my really comfy bed with Bunny. We listened to old Jack Benny radio programs by candlelight while the wind and the rain did their blustery autumnal thing outside…

Copyright Georgeta Blanaru
Copyright Georgeta Blanaru

I love listening to old Jack Benny radio programs. They are so silly.  Back when Hubert Selby, Jr. was still alive, we used to write letters (yes, old fashioned, hand-written letters — he was a muse of mine and I was very lucky to have known him in the last decade or so of his life). We both loved listening to Jack Benny. If you know his work, and know my earlier work, you will probably find it unlikely that we both loved someone as silly as Jack Benny. But we did. Oh, and we also both love(d) cats.

Okay, so.

There are many reasons for my long absence from here. I won’t go into all of them because some of them were really sad. But it is sufficient to say that here I am, back at it, and also taking another course in school — winding down to the final course, which starts right after Thanksgiving. I am actually liking the new course, even though I was expecting to hate it.  I took one look at the cover of the textbook and decided the course was going to be unendurable, but, as so often is the case when we judge a book by its cover, I was wrong! The book is really good. (The course is on teaching Christian education.)

Some of my other news is that, once the developers take over my property and tear down my house, I am moving back to New York! Mostly because I have so many theater-writing jobs lined up that it makes sense to move back there, plus 99% of my friends still live there, along with “the guy” I would like to live closer to (to put it cryptically). I am not going to live in the city, though; I am going to be a commuter from the truly lovely Hudson Valley area! (Somewhere between the Beekman Arms and the old Roosevelt home.) I am also going to be buying my first 4 wheel drive vehicle, since I will be living in the foothills of the Catskill mountains. I have my heart set on a Jeep Commander! I will be sad to say goodbye to my trusty and rusty old 1997 (!!) Toyota Camry because it gets such incredibly great mileage. But, I guess the next (last) half of my life is destined to be entirely different, so here we go…

The Catskills in Autumn
The Catskills in Autumn

I guess I will close now and relax a little before trying to tackle that darn TV pilot re-write that is really plaguing me these days. Hope you’ve had a really great Tuesday, wherever you are and whatever the weather is doing! Thanks for visiting, gang. See ya’ real soon!

Spiders as the thoughts of God

Yes, we’re back to the subject of spiders — for a moment.

It was actually a sort of “non-stop spider summer” around here this year, but I decided not to write about it constantly, since readers prefer posts about cats over posts about spiders.  However, my life seems to abound with both.

In the 8 years I’ve lived here, I have never seen as many spiders as I saw this summer.  And since I have a no-kill policy, any spiders that happened to find themselves lounging around in the Great Indoors, eventually had to be escorted back outside by moi. Not a thing I relish doing, since  — if you recall the Brad episode — the spiders this year were super-duper LARGE.

In August, I finally realized that all the flower boxes outside my front windows were completely, thoroughly, and 100 % infested with a busy colony of huge, happy spiders.  This is why they all kept coming inside — they did not differentiate between “flower box in the window” and that great big WELCOME mat in front of the screen door, directly next to them.  “Su casa, mi casa” they would often chuckle, as they persistently made their way indoors to jolt me out of my calm contentment. I have to say, though, that once I realized where they were all coming from, it was really fascinating to watch them in the flower boxes. I just wish they weren’t so creepy looking.

A couple weeks ago, I got up the nerve to get all the window boxes emptied over in the flower beds, so that the spiders could re-locate away from the house, but some of the really big ones still come over and hang out on the front step, or literally on the screen door. It is almost like they are coming to visit me, personally.  They do not run away from me now, even when I am really close to them.

THEY [clinging to the screen door]: “Hey, cutie! Yeah — you! Sorry, I don’t remember your name, but could you come over here and help us with this door? We’re trying to get in.”

If you subscribe to the same theological/philosophical beliefs that I do, that we exist as Thoughts of God, then you will grasp what I’ m trying to say in the title of today’s post.  I believe that our true existence is in the one Mind of God. That we all spring into being from the thoughts God has.  So I have often wondered, this summer, what a spider feels like in God’s mind, and what is God thinking about when a spider springs from His (Its) thoughts? So far, there are 35,000 known species of spiders in the world. Why the heck is that? Such an abundance of creation going on all the time! It is such a liberating thought, you know.

One afternoon in early September, one of the really large spiders (about 2 1/2 inches in length) was sitting on the front step, just staring out at the world. It wasn’t asleep, it was definitely awake, but it was just sitting there, taking it all in, and really at peace.  It never once flinched when I walked past it, and I had to, several times. It just sat there, contemplative, for hours. I know, because I kept checking on it. It left sometime during the night. But it spent a really lovely afternoon just peacefully taking in all of creation from its own inviolate POV. I found that really joyful, you know? It wasn’t afraid of me; it knew I wasn’t planning to hurt it. Proof that when listening to our own true natures we need never be bogged down in anxiety. We can bask in the sunshine, the blue sky, the gentle breeze — and have a fulfilled life.  There is no fear. And having goals and such is just gravy.

I also think about how liberating it must feel to just trail off on a wisp of a web when you want to float off somewhere.  Or how it feels to be able to just spin a cocoon-like little home when you want to settle in and be cozy and safe from the elements.  Spiders really do fascinate me and I wonder why on earth they were created (times 35,000 and counting). I don’t need to know the answer. The question alone speaks volumes about all the things we cannot possibly know.  And it only points to the big question mark of who we are and why.  I’m not sure there’s a knowable answer for that question, either, but whatever that answer might be feels more sacred to me all the time.

Okay, I suppose I will close this and get some work done around here. I’ll leave you with a photo of some other creatures I love, who wandered into my home of their own persistent accord two years ago: Those endearing little redheads, Tom and Huckleberry! Both untamed females! (They’re the best kind of females, don’t you think??)

Okay, see ya, gang! Thanks for visiting!!

Tom and Huckleberry, in the sun room a few minutes ago!
Tom and Huckleberry, in the sun room a few minutes ago!

 

 

Seemingly back on track!

I had been really excited about yesterday. I had veritably quarantined the entire day for me — me, me, ME!  I knew I would have one quick call with one of the producers in LA, and that was going to be the only “work” related thing I would allow to happen all day.

Except for the Hospital Visitation Training,  which happened on Monday night, I am on break from school this whole week.  Yesterday was going to be a day where all I would do was work on my own projects; write whatever I felt like writing; just sit at my desk and be creative and happy! I would fiddle with my notes from that rewrite seminar I took on Saturday and I would use what I’d learned to create veritable miracles with my scripts! I would break new ground that would lead to unqualified success all across the board!

It panned out a little differently.  First off, even though I had slept great because the night had been really cool — down in the low 40s — it turned out that I was totally, thoroughly, 100% exhausted. I was too exhausted to even do my morning meditation; I couldn’t think straight. It seems weird to have been too tired to meditate, but it happened.

Then Kevin called and I was going to regale him with all the miracles we now held in our hands, thanks to that rewrite seminar, and how it was going to elevate our script to new heights… Instead, he unexpectedly said, “I’m sorry to bother you so early in the morning, Marilyn, but our car blew up.”

“What?!”

“It was parked in the street, over a manhole cover, and something down in the sewer exploded and it sent the manhole cover right up into our car. We had a full tank of gas. The car completely exploded. Went up in flames. It is totally destroyed. And now there is no electricity in the apartment. The whole building is out. And for some reason, it’s really cool outside but unbearably hot in the apartment. I’m losing my mind. I hate Brooklyn.”

Wow, well after that, I figured that discussing our miracles could wait until some other time.

I tried to journal (yes, that noun that has become an exceedingly active verb in our culture), but just as I was getting started, one of the men that I do part-time clerical work for called and asked if I could do one quick payroll thing for him on my computer, so I said yes, and twenty minutes later, I was too exhausted to “journal.” So I wrapped myself in a cozy sweater, went down to the family room and watched a “Miss Marple” movie that I had DVR’d (another exceedingly active verb from our culture) from PBS.  I enjoyed the movie so much! It required that I do nothing but sit and stare! I am really good at that, especially when I am exhausted.

Since it was such a gorgeous day outside, after the movie, I forced myself to go take a walk down to the creek and back. About 3 miles, tops. I thought it would invigorate me.  And it really was such a beautiful fall day.  So I walked. I walked and I walked.  I saw the ducks, the swan, and the beautiful creek with the sunlight playing on the gently rushing water as it flowed over the rocks. I decided to take the Big Walnut Trail back to my house, instead of walking along the busy street. (If you check that map I linked to, my neighborhood is — yes! — Gramercy Park! And, no, it is not that Gramercy Park!)

It was really a beautiful walk. I even took this photo for you of the empty community swimming pool, always such a bittersweet sight in autumn:

Gahanna community pool, CLOSED now 'til summer.
Gahanna community pool, CLOSED now ’til summer.

But as I got closer to my neighborhood, what did I discover? Construction going on!! They were tearing up everything and it was full of noisy trucks and tons of construction workers!! This is one of the reasons why I hate living here now and am moving away: there is construction everywhere; trees being torn down all over the place. They are even going to tear down my 60-year-old maple tree once they bulldoze my house. I am really heartsick about all of it. But what was worse, is that I had to turn around and walk back to where I had come from, then head home from there — adding about 2 more miles to my “nice walk.”

By the time I finally got back home, I was indescribably exhausted. I spent the rest of the day laying in bed with Fluffy, watching a veritable marathon of Andy Hardy movies on TCM. It is both an innocuous and nauseating way to spend about six hours! But I was too tired to do a single other thing but stare.

So much for yesterday. But I slept great last night and feel totally back on track today, so I will attempt to spend the afternoon working on those miracles. We shall see!! Meanwhile, I leave you with the clip below.  (Multiply this 3-minute clip by 6 hours and see if you don’t come to a solution that looks like “nausea!”)

Alrighty! Have a terrific, peppy, miraculous Wednesday, wherever you are. Thanks for visiting, gang! See ya!

Ok, Need to Turn Things Around

This not sleeping right nonsense has got to stop. Last night, I slept 8 hours but they were “fitful.” (As evidenced by the selfie above that I just now took, right this minute, which highlights the lovely lines all around my eyes. They are usually not there.)

Actually, that’s an interesting word — fitful. It’s an adjective that means “occurring irregularly.”

I woke full of resistance this morning, feeling argumentative. After breakfast, I did a guided meditation on letting go of resistance and I thought that had worked. My ACIM review lesson this morning was on not holding onto grievances; so I thought I had a grip on that. But then, everything I pulled out of my closet and tried on to maybe wear to church made me feel like crap, so I got mildly pissed-off and, after changing clothes no less than 5 times, what I eventually did was stayed home from church altogether, at the last minute. Which made me feel like even worse crap. (This is all good English, mind you, so feel free to borrow liberally from me!) I hate when my insecure ego gets in the way of my doing things that I normally really love to do.

So then I decided to go for a walk. It had made me feel so great yesterday. But I got to the end of my driveway and noticed dark, thunderstorm-like clouds on the horizon, so I turned around and went right back inside, where I noticed that I have a ton of housecleaning to do, but I do not feel like doing a single bit of it (which is not the best idea when you have ten cats).

In short — the day seems to be sucking! And I am not one who suffers sucky days gladly, gracefully. Graciously? Hm. Which word? Well, whichever way, I don’t like wasting time on suckiness so I need to turn it all around.

Here’s the good stuff: a.) I turned in all my homework for the Church Administration class so that is DONE. I am officially on a 10-day break from school, starting today;  b.) that course I took yesterday on screenplay rewrites was actually really good. I recommend it, even though I have to be honest and say that I don’t always recommend those free screenwriting courses from Screenwriting U, but this one was, in fact, really helpful. And it will come in handy, since I am currently up to my eyeballs in no less than three separate projects that are in rewrites: a one-woman play; a feature-length screenplay; an hour-long TV pilot; and c.) I have to teach a 2-hour writing class tomorrow, but other than that, I don’t really have to be anywhere for “work” work until Wednesday morning at 10 AM.

All those things together should add up to a terrific Sunday, right? I would think so. You know, it has gotten really breezy outside and those dark clouds actually blew away without ever raining on us, so I think I will re-visit that idea of taking a walk. It’s windy but the sun is really shining now. Then maybe I’ll go to a movie. I still want to see The Hundred-Foot Journey and I can see it today for 5 bucks! So perhaps I will! Anything to not let the suckiness rule.

Okay, I hope Sunday is panning out really great for you, gang, wherever you are! I leave you with the song below, as an added omen for non-suckiness! Thanks for visiting. See ya!

The world of author Marilyn Jaye Lewis