What’s wrong with this picture?

One of my friend’s signed up at oDesk and eLance recently because she needed to drum up more work. Now, I am the kind of writer who always needs to drum up more money; I never need to drum up more work!

But sometimes (okay — frequently) I forget this!

Yesterday, after I came home from a freelance editing job, and while I was organizing the homework assignments I had to write for this week, and after I had talked to the actress in NYC again about nailing down the flight I needed to take to get to NYC and begin working on the original off-Broadway musical, and while staring at the piles of notes I had for my screenplay re-writes with Kevin in Brooklyn, and from the producer in L.A. for the TV series we’re trying to develop, and while thinking about the new book I wanted to write (a fun murder mystery that I think will be a blast! I already have a producer interested in a holiday screen adaptation for women’s television), I thought to myself: You know, I ought to sign up at oDesk and eLance, too, and try to make some more money…

So sign up, I did!That’s right!

But then, as my head hit the pillow last night, I thought to myself: How bizarre! What the heck is the matter with you? When do you think you’re actually going to be able to do anyone else’s writing and still have time for your own???

So I un-signed up this morning.

Why is it that it is so hard for writers to consistently earn enough money to live on and still write creatively (as opposed to hired-and-sometimes-hack work that other people can’t or won’t do)? It has plagued me throughout my entire career, and I’ve been a professional writer now for 25 years. Sometimes the money is great. Sometimes it stays consistently good for a good chunk of time. Then it disappears entirely and you resort to prayer. Then, happily, it picks up again. Sometimes, it even snowballs into more money than you’ve ever seen, but I haven’t experienced that. Yet. (You’ll notice, though, that as a recently ordained minister, I have made resorting to prayer part of my full-time job! I am really, really good at resorting to prayer. However, that said, I have also gotten really good at standing back and letting prayers be answered, left, right, and center. It had a lot to do with this stuff –click link & scroll down– and it took years to master it. And some days, I don’t master it at all.)

I honestly think that you’ve got to be happy. It is imperative. Do only what makes you happy — and you might be surprised at what types of little jobs might make you happy. I know I’ve surprised myself over the years. (4 years ago, I said yes to a 2-hour cleaning job without knowing it meant I would be working for this company and that, as a writer, it would open all kinds of doors for me and turn my life around.) Make yourself happy and then the other stuff that comes to you makes you, surprisingly, even happier. But sometimes you have to really wait.  And that “waiting” part is when a whole lot of people just give up, turn around and go home. (i.e., “do stuff they hate.”)

I don’t think that writers are going to get paid what they’re worth in this lifetime. A small few will — but it’s fewer and fewer all the time. However, you can at least make enough to live a fulfilled and happy life.   And, really, I believe that’s what we’re here for. When we’re fulfilled and happy, we do astounding things that can’t help but have a beneficial trickle-down effect for everybody.

On that happy note, I gotta scoot!! Have a terrific Wednesday, wherever you are and whatever happy thing you’re doing!! Thanks for visiting, gang. See ya.

[One of my all-time favorite films. Who knew it would be part of my destiny, kind of??]

 

 

 

How about that weekend?

I don’t know about you guys, but I had the best weekend.  All my plans seemed to go awry at the last minute (i.e., I was supposed to see the opera the Marriage of Figaro, Skype with Kevin, go to church) and I wound up having the entire weekend to myself, with nowhere I needed to go, nothing pressing I needed to do. My homework was completed by mid-morning on Saturday. A local marathon kept me from going to church on Sunday. I wound up just taking a couple of really lovely walks; I baked a cake; I did laundry; I did yoga; and then spent most of the weekend watching old Harry Potter movies on TV!

I don’t know — what could be better? I so rarely have two days in a row where I don’t really have to do much of anything.  And the Harry Potter movies are such fun time-wasters.  I actually sat in my own living room, in my own easy chair, and I watched television for hours.  (There was a Harry Potter marathon on ABCFamily.) For some reason, I don’t spend much time hanging out in my own living room.  It has become a luxury. Something that symbolizes “free time.”

I had a great phone conference with one of the producers in L.A. yesterday. Last week, I actually let the other producer go.  (Or however you would say that  — it’s not like I fired him.) I came to the conclusion that even though he was a really nice guy and had great ideas, those ideas were taking my own idea in a really different direction that I couldn’t connect with — and because of that, the re-writing process had become tortuous for me.  As soon as he was out of the picture, a veritable flood of great ideas started pouring into my brain. Interesting how that works, isn’t it?

And nothing beats having enthusiasm for a project you’re writing, right? Enthusiasm is that fine line between heaven and hell.

The trip to New York City is getting closer. It’s supposed to happen in two weeks, they’re just trying to nail down the best airfare.  It is so hard for me to believe that my life is really this good. The money still needs to be a lot better, but I know it’s on its way.

Yesterday when I was taking my walk, I was getting so psyched about being able to go see Broadway shows again! I can’t remember the last time I got to see a Broadway show, but I think it was about twelve years ago.  You know, New York City has changed so much since the days when I first moved there. Back then, in the 80s, I lived with my first husband on the corner of W. 45th Street and 8th Avenue, in the Camelot Building, fittingly enough!

The Camelot Building, New York City
The Camelot Building, New York City

This was literally just a few steps from every theater on Broadway, and tickets back then cost $15, if you can believe that. I was in my early 20s and a waitress in those days, and I saw every show on Broadway.  Then, gradually, it just got more and more and more expensive.  It got to the point where I could only see one or two Broadway shows a year.

I read an article in the Hollywood Reporter over the weekend that said that 78% of the people who attend Broadway shows are white, and %68 of them are white women, with an average age of 44 1/2 years old, with an average income of $186,500 a year.

I don’t know. Those numbers just sort of made me feel weird. I read them over a number of times, trying to make sense out of what has happened to the world I used to know. Not that it matters. I’m just curious.

All right, well. I have to go work for a few hours, so I need to get crackin’ around here. I hope you have a great Monday, gang, wherever you are, and I hope it’s the start of a super-terrific week! Thanks for visiting. See ya.

[This was the first Broadway musical I saw that truly blew me away. And here I’d thought I was going to be bored…]

 

 

Yesterday was glorious!

Yesterday morning was one of those amazing October mornings, where it rained off and on and the sky was sort of brooding — the kind of weather that’s tailor-made for all those scary black & white movies Hollywood made in the 1930s — the ones about old haunted houses or abandoned castles, where a group of strangers suddenly becomes stranded from the rain and must spend the night there…  The kind of movies that were scary but fun! They didn’t make you feel like puking!

There was nothing scary about yesterday morning, though. It was just moody weather. I decided to take a walk because I had to run a quick errand across the street anyway, and the world just looked so autumnal. I brought some bread with me (and an umbrella!) because I wanted to feed the ducks down by the creek. On my way there, I had to stop in at City Hall and pay my gi-normous water bill.  I was so relieved that I was able to pay it before it was due because this town not only has gi-normous water bills, they tack on gi-normous late fees if you pay the bill even one day late… [Foreshadowing, folks!]

As I walked up the steps to City Hall, I looked down at my water bill and at the check I had made out to pay the water bill, and what to my wondering eyes should appear?? The bill had actually been due the day before. Honestly, I was flabbergasted. This means an additional $35 in late fees for basically no reason whatsoever. I could have easily paid the bill the day before, but I thought, what’s the rush? It’s not due until Friday… But au contraire. I really felt blindsided by that.

Then I proceeded into City Hall, which is a really small building by most City Hall standards, and for the first time in my 8 years of paying water bills in there, I noticed that they had a court room. I could see it plain as day through big glass doors. The judge was sitting up on the bench and a bunch of people were sitting there, waiting their turns to pay gi-normous fines, no doubt.

It was such a weird feeling. First, to be so wrong about the due date on the bill that had been sitting out on my desk for an entire month; then to discover this entire courthouse that I had never once seen before, even though it’s pretty much the main thing in the main hallway there when you walk in. I felt so weird. Is this what it’s like when you’re on the verge of dementia? I wondered. Hmmm.

But I decided to just let it go; for whatever reason, I walk around half-crazy all the time. I’ve been like that forever. Guess there’s no reason to stop now.

So I proceeded on my walk and it was a beautiful walk. There were all those wet, colorful fall leaves all over the pavement, and the dark sky was filled with foreboding but I didn’t care because I had my trusty umbrella with me.

The creek was crystal clear and rushing merrily along, and the ducks were very happy to have some bread so suddenly, early on a Thursday morning. (Bread is usually the weekend routine, when happy toddlers abound! But, luckily, I have sort of remained in a toddler frame of giddiness my whole life — oh, except when I am in the depths of misery and suicidal despair. However, I haven’t been in that frame of mind for a couple years now, so I believe that has passed for good. I guess we shall see as more time passes.)

Once the bread was gone, I decided to walk farther down the path, into the woods, to where there’s a wooden bridge that spans the creek.  And suddenly light rain drops began to fall. It was so beautiful because the rain drops sent flurries of fall leaves fluttering down from the towering trees all around me.  And once I reached the bridge, the raindrops were splashing down into the creek. It was just so peaceful. I was the only person there. Way off in the distance, I saw a family of white ducks on the bank; they were just waking up. Everything made me feel so blessed.

I turned around and headed for home, then. I wound up having just a really peaceful day.

Okay, on that note, I’m running late here today. I gotta scoot. Have a fantastic Friday, gang, wherever it finds you!! Thanks for visiting. See ya!

copyright Leonid Afrimov
copyright Leonid Afrimov

 

 

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

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!

The world of author Marilyn Jaye Lewis