Tag Archives: Babylon Revisited F. Scott Fitzgerald

Let’s Make it Through this Morning Alive, Shall We??!!

It’s one of those mornings around here. I seem to be resisting myself at every turn.

When I awoke, I erroneously thought it was 3 in the morning.  So I was just lying there, wondering why I felt so curiously awake.

Then I noticed the sky was getting light and I looked at my phone and saw that it was actually 5:25.  Which is usually when I’m already downstairs in the kitchen, feeding the cats, and getting breakfast. WTF? Why did I think it was 3 am?

I always know I’m in some sort of weird emotional alignment when stuff like that happens first thing.

I went downstairs just as a train was passing through. An indescribably loud thing; the train whistle shrieks, the rumbling on the tracks shakes the whole house. In the summertime, it gets extremely personal because all the windows are open and the train literally seems to be right in my house. The cats go crazy.  Scurrying around, trying to hide from it.

I love the train, but it can be a lot to deal with when you’re only halfway down the stairs, none of the lights are on yet, the world outside is mostly dark. And all the cats are upset and darting everywhere.

I had awoken with the song “Jefferson Jericho Blues” in my head, and Mojo was already in the CD player in the kitchen, so I turned it on, not feeling completely confident that it was in fact a “Jefferson Jericho Blues” kind of morning. But the train had already thrown me into weirdness, so why not have music to be weird by, too?

I did okay until the coffee was ready and I was pouring it into my loving, F. Scott Fitzgerald coffee cup, and I started thinking about him (F. Scott Fitzgerald, the man) and some of the mistakes he had made and how, after he died, the whole world decided he was a 20th Century literary master regardless, so what did it matter – those mistakes?

His own mistake, really, was just alcoholism. The larger mistake was of course the Great Depression and the world’s insistence on blaming the immorality of the Jazz Age for its newfound financial woes, and since F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books were considered the ushers of that immorality of the Jazz Age into the world – well, you know, the world didn’t want any reminders of their personal infidelities, or greed, or immoral behaviors of all stripes.  So he was the brunt of their wrath and his book sales plummeted.

If you’re interested in 1920s Western literature and haven’t read his masterpiece short story, “Babylon Revisited,” it is a real sobering heartbreaker. It is not presented as a “memoir” but it might as well have been.  His return to Paris, where everything has become bitter, disillusioned, old colleagues are now broke, and he is treated as a social pariah by his own family — his in-laws refusing to allow him to be alone with his own daughter for fear that just his (now notorious) presence in the room will corrupt her at age 6 or whatever she is. And he loves his daughter more than anything else in the world.

Anyway, it’s just heartbreaking – what it illustrates about the hypocritical puritanism of humanity. But so good. (I named my Muse collection  – The Muse Revisited – after that short story.)

As I was thinking about all that, and pouring my coffee into that loving coffee cup, “The Trip to Pirate’s Cove” came onto the CD player.

If you don’t know the song (linked above), it’s terrifically moody and atmospheric and suggestive of unsavory impulses and a sort of irresponsible acquiescence to living along the underbelly of life.

Normally, I love this song. When Cherie, my birth mother, was here visiting in November, I played the song for her for a specific personal reason that I won’t go into here, but she loved the song, too. She and I are two peas in a pod in so many ways, and especially in this need we both have to rebel against the understood Order of things, and to sort of acquiesce to that immoral undertow as a rebellion against everything imaginable.

People used to think there was something scandalous about me being so insistent about getting rid of my virginity when I was only 13 — you know, making that decision for myself, with my eyes wide open, and finding someone who would take care of that for me.

But considering that my mother was 13 when she gave birth to me. I don’t know. Seems like some sort of significant evolutionary leap occurred there.  So I’m not ashamed of anything. And it’s interesting to note that she isn’t, either.  She’s just still sort of angry that her dad took me away from her, and gave me away to some other people who didn’t suspect, or fully appreciate, the immoral underbelly of life that I was bringing along with me!

Ah well.

Anyway, the song now has even more loving and significant attachments for me because of my birth mother, but this morning, Tom Petty’s voice was doing that thing it sometimes does now that he’s dead: It sounded more alive than if he had still been alive.  There’s a quality that creeps into it, that’s beyond life and beyond death, and it sounds like it’s right there with me, beating inside my heart.

Usually this pierces me and that whole crying thing springs out of me. But you know. It was still so early in the morning and I was determined not to train-wreck this whole day. So I turned the CD player off.

And I sat at the kitchen table in silence — except for the wonderful birds outside –and ate my boringly organic, non-gmo, vegetarian breakfast, drank my coffee and watched my many feral cats happily devour little-ceramic-bowlfuls of fish-smelly gunk that I wouldn’t eat if you paid me. And I mean, any amount of money in the world. Uck.

But they’re happy. And I’m determined to be happy, too, and to stay happy.

So then I meditated and tried to sort of mentally feel my way into a better emotional alignment.  But I am, indeed, in some sort of mood today.  That’s for certain.

I have been making a little progress on the new memoir site, In the Shadow of Narcissa. Although, I lost the featured photo and cannot figure out how to get it back! The only way it “comes back” now is as an enormous background banner kind of thing. Which so incredibly irritates me.  So I just got rid of the photo entirely. So, one less bell, one less whistle… It’s just maddening how a simple, single blog page can become so fucking complicated.

But it is up, and I am working on it. I am trying to make it an extremely streamlined thing; using details sparingly without rendering it totally meaningless. I think it will always be in a state of being “in progress.” And I’m not sure how it will translate to the Edge of Humanity magazine, but we’ll see.

Okay, for no reason at all, I give you this. I found it yesterday while I was looking for that photo of my younger brother that I posted yesterday on yesterday’s post. It’s a picture of my first husband, a few months before we met. He’s in London here, where he lived & studied for awhile before moving to NYC. (He’s a native of Singapore, originally.) I have always loved this photo of him. I kept it taped to the bedroom wall for years & years, pretty much right up until I got married to someone else.

Foun Kee, London, 1979

Right after he and I split up (in 1983), he was so angry at me for leaving him that he didn’t really want to have much to do with me for a few months. When it was time for him to move to Honolulu, though, he called me on the phone and wanted to take me to dinner. “Let’s just be nice,” he said.

And so we met in Chinatown (in NYC). I was excited, you know, and I was trying very hard not to have all those constant “things” in my personality that made him insane. And I was totally, totally, totally sober and had been for a couple months. No booze. No drugs.

He’s a Buddhist, so he took me to a Buddhist temple with him to pray as husband & wife (for the last time, it turned out) and to get our fortunes. (These tiny scrolls of paper that had sayings on them that were supposed to give you something to contemplate and make you a better person or something. I still have mine somewhere, but I’m not sure where.)

Then we went into a shop and he bought me a pair of these really lovely, deep red silk pajamas that resembled a cheongsam and had golden dragons embroidered on them. They were really beautiful. I still have them stored away, but they haven’t fit me in a long time.

After dinner, when we were getting ready to part (forever, it turned out), he said, “I want you to have this.” And he slid one of those cassette-singles that used to be popular, across the table to me. It was wrapped up, like a gift.  And he said, “I’m sorry, okay? Please take care of yourself.”

And then he was gone. And the cassette was Willie Nelson’s version of the song, “Always on My Mind.”

It broke my heart.  Just broke it to pieces. He was not one to ever apologize for anything, and neither was I, which was why we were tearing asunder our own marriage. But we needed to be different people. Life just moved us on.

And that said! I need to get started here today, gang! I’m gonna work a little more on In the Shadow of Narcissa, and then try to make heads or tails of all my notes on revisions for Tell My Bones.  Thanks for visiting! I leave you with this! You know. Stay married if you want to, my friend; if it matters that much in the long run. Get a divorce if that seems to make more sense to you. Don’t look to me for any answers or guidance on that, because there is a broken heart in each decision. But I have found that moving onward regardless is easier to sleep with at night than constant unhappiness. And the broken heart passes. It does.

I love you guys. See ya.

“Always On My Mind”

Maybe I didn’t love you
Quite as often as I could have
And maybe I didn’t treat you
Quite as good as I should have
If I made you feel second best
Girl I’m sorry I was blind

You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind

And maybe I didn’t hold you
All those lonely, lonely times
I guess I never told you
I’m so happy that you’re mine
Little things I should have said and done
I just never took the time

But you were always on my mind
You were always on my mind

Tell me
Tell me that your sweet love hasn’t died
And give me
Give me one more chance
To keep you satisfied
I’ll keep you satisfied

Little things I should have said and done
I just never took the time

But you were always on my mind
You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind