Tag Archives: Blessed By Light by Marilyn Jaye Lewis

A Cozy Little Saturday, Indeed!

I’m having the best morning, gang.  I finally woke up feeling super happy and super frisky! I did make myself do yoga yesterday and it made a world of difference.  Although I am also putting on weight because it’s that time of year…. Since my mom’s visit, there is chocolate candy in bright shiny wrappers all over the house and eggnog in the fridge and all sorts of cheesy goodness in the freezer.

In other words, I’m eating all kinds of holiday stuff that tastes so good and is just not so good for me!! But next week, austere living returns so I’m gonna just enjoy it for now.

Oh! And the royalties for December are coming in — thanks, gang.  I really appreciate it. I made good money this month, and considering that so much of my potential sales were disappearing out from under me this past fall — with all those illegal downloads all over the Internet — I really do appreciate you spending actual money on the books, even though I know the books are really old!

However, I am working on getting new stuff out there.

Which reminds me — yesterday, for some reason that I don’t recall right this minute, I was looking over a chapter in Blessed By Light (my new novel) and I wound up re-reading a good chunk of that book. Gosh, I really love that book. I cannot wait for it to get published and put itself out there into the world.

It’s not as erotic as most of the stuff I write (the excerpt at the top of the page is a good indication of the level of explicitness in the book overall. It doesn’t ever get too hard core.) But it’s just a beautiful little book. It made me feel really happy to re-read it.

And I’m also really happy with where Letter #6 for Girl in the Night: Erotic Love Letters to the Muse is going.  (“Captivity” is the title of it. It’s basically about sex in the mental hospital — it won’t be the cheeriest chapter ever written, but oh well!)

I’m also excited because the director of Tell My Bones and his husband arrive back in the Hinterlands today, to spend the holidays at their mansion on the hill — their house is in town, about 20 miles from me.  Not only will I finally have something festive to do for the holidays that involves other people besides just me (and the cats) (plus I’ll probably finally have a reason to wear high heels and a little black dress again), but I’m also eager to spend at least a little time going over the revisions of the play with the director.

Oh, you know, if you want to read a brief excerpt of Tell My Bones, you can do it HERE. (Click on the link that’s on that page.) And sign up for the newsletter there if you want to, too.

I’m just feeling really good about all the various projects today. Plus, I’m going to pay bills today and I have complete confidence that I’m not going to do that weird shit I did last month — wherein I paid a big chunk of bills that weren’t due yet and neglected to pay tiny things like my mortgage and my car payment! Aaach!! But it worked out at the final hour, thanks to having two ex-husbands who still really like me a lot….

Anyway. I just feel like I have a brain again — i.e: look at the bills that are actually due and pay those — and that’s always uplifting!!

Okay. Well! I’m gonna get started here. Have a super Saturday, wherever you are in the world!! Thanks for visiting, gang! I leave you with my breakfast-listening music, even though there’s narry a hint of snow anywhere around, but the song just makes me happy! All righty! I love you guys. See ya!

Plenty of Chocolate Around Here, So Life is Good!

Yesterday wound up being pretty okay. Even though, by the time I actually was able to sit at my desk and really focus on the play for a few uninterrupted hours in the evening, it turned out that my extensive notes on the new dialogue were better than the actual new dialogue, so I closed the computer and just decided to wait until today.

Two things happened yesterday that were interesting.

My phone chat with my ex-husband in Seattle revealed that he was in some sort of depression — something having to do with the state of the whole world and its economy. A view I don’t share because I don’t stare at the stock market all day — or ever.

But it was weird — he’s not someone who has ever been prone to actual depression. He has certainly had his struggles in life and had things that have really challenged him. But depression was not something he ever succumbed to.

I just let him talk, you know. Express whatever he needed to express, without trying to change his point of view on anything. But I didn’t share any of his views and that felt so weird, because we usually have similar views on life, in general (which was why we got married, a million years ago). The stuff he was focused on yesterday — well, I couldn’t have felt more different about that stuff.

And then I had an email exchange with a friend in Europe who was talking to me about my new novel, Blessed By Light. He likes the concept a lot (in an extreme nutshell, the novel documents a love affair that takes place in the final year of life of a fictional American rock & roll legend — and it’s told in Second Person, throughout). But he didn’t like the title at all.

And I found that both interesting and sort of amusing, since “Blessed By Light” refers to God, and somewhat to Jesus, and to that light we go toward when we die (or so people in near death experiences attest to), and then the actual spotlight of fame — and all of it relating to the character in the novel, who strongly believes in God. And since it’s totally uncool to believe in God anymore, I thought to myself, that’s interesting that the title is bothering him so much and he doesn’t even know yet that it refers to God.

People seem to like that my characters have a lot of sex and take drugs and are challenged by moral dilemmas, but you know — God. Not sure we appreciate going there.

It’s definitely an American novel, though, that’s for sure.

But aside from those two strange things, yesterday was actually really nice. Nowhere near as annoying as I thought it would be.

As soon as I left to go vote, the sun came out big time; the sky cleared up and it was a gorgeous day to drive around in. I voted, and everyone at the voting place was in good spirits. I went to the Honda dealership and everyone there was in good spirits. I went to get my groceries and the check-out girl said, “wow, I love what’s in your cart– you buy all the things I like.” Then I came home and vacuumed the house, etc., etc. It was just a really nice, easy day. Not annoying at all.

I also changed the furnace filter — I knew it had to be getting bad because my breathing issues were getting more pronounced. I usually have to give myself a little pep talk before I go down into my basement, though. It’s not the creepiest basement I’ve ever had but it is second in line. Once I’m down there, though, I’m actually okay. Much like this entire house, even the creepy 119-year-old unfinished basement has good vibes to it. (Assuming you don’t mind spiders, which I don’t.)

In fact, while I was down there changing the filter, I took a couple of photos for you!! One is of what’s left of the 119-year-old coal bin under the stairs, and the other is the coal shoot, which has been sealed up, but it’s still technically there. I just love old stuff like this — you know, actual remnants from the man who built this house. His water well is still outside my back door and is only nominally covered over, and the barn of course is still there, with all its original insides, including the hand built cupboards, and the old hand-built pass-throughs for feeding the horse. People just layered the new stuff around the old stuff over the years. And I just really love that.

The remains of the 119-year-old coal bin under the basement stairs.
The sealed-up coal shoot at the top of the stairs. Don’t want to wear your fetish high-heels on these old stairs, that’s for certain!

Well, after I had that full day, and got no productive writing done on the play, I just did yoga and then listened to Ghosteen on my phone while I played solitaire on my iPad, and wondered how musicians feel about people listening to all their hard work on a phone. But still, it just seemed like a good day.

Oh, yesterday, Nick Cave sent out another Red Hand Files letter. You can read it here. It’s about the benefits of Transcendental Meditation, and how it transformed him from the horribly wonderful man he used to be into the wonderfully wonderful man he is today! (I’m paraphrasing, of course, because I am incapable of thinking so much as a disparaging thought about Nick Cave.) However, he was eloquent and interesting, as always.

And now I am going to get back to work on the ending of this play!!! See if I can come up with some actual dialogue that is as good as my notes are.

Still doing the Angel Clare thing at breakfast around here, so I leave you with a truly gorgeous piece of production work today, “Old Man”. A song written by Randy Newman, about a mean old man, a father, dying alone — almost. If you’ve never heard it before, you should listen to it (turn it up). It’s the kind of soaring, devastating singing that Art Garfunkel is famous for. Okay. Thanks for visiting, gang!! I love you guys. See ya.

“Old Man”

Everyone has gone away, can you hear me? Can you hear me?
No one cared enough to stay, can you hear me?

You must remember me, old man, I know that you can if you try.
So just open up your eyes, old man, look who’s come to say, “Goodbye.”

The sun has left the sky, old man, the birds have flown away
and no one came to cry old man, goodbye, old man, goodbye.

You want to stay, I know you do, but it ain’t no use to try,
because I’ll be here, and I’m just like you, goodbye, old man, goodbye.

Won’t be no God to comfort you, you taught me not to believe that lie.
You don’t need anybody, nobody needs you, don’t cry, old man, don’t cry.

Everybody dies.

c – 1973 Randy Newman

Excerpt: Blessed By Light

Chapter 18: The Guitar Hero Goes Home

[Currently live at the Exterminating Angel Press Magazine]

The Guitar Hero Goes Home.

by Marilyn Jaye Lewis.

IT’S JUST LIKE THEY SAY IT IS. You’re floating. You’re going to the light. And then you’re looking down on yourself, at all the men, slamming the palms of their hands into your chest with all the strength they’ve got. I could hear them talking, calling to me to come back. Saw all those lights flashing on the highway. Then they got out that horrible little machine. I could see my chest lurching. I could see you crying. No one seemed to notice that all you were wearing was a little blue trench coat, nothing under it. No shoes, even. Standing there barefoot on the shoulder of the freeway at 3 in the morning.

And George sure is a good friend. I know that now without doubt – not that I ever really doubted him.

I’m glad I’m back, but I didn’t wanna come back. Not when I was out there looking down, because, honey, my god, was it peaceful out there. Just so peaceful.

Not that I wanted to leave you. It wasn’t like that. It was just that peace. It felt like something I had always known and yet had just suddenly remembered. It was all around me. I hated to leave it.

*  *   *

Do I really wanna keep on living if I can’t smoke? Jesus.

Come on, honey. I didn’t mean it like that. Yes, I know this is crucial. It’s important stuff now. I have to make some serious changes here, but goddamn it, I’ve been smoking since I was, like, 10 years old.

And what the hell are all these things on me?

Get me outta this fucking place.

Please.

*  *   *

An angel came to me when I was just a little boy. I was in my bed. A winter morning was just barely creeping through the window shades. It was quite early. My little brother was sound asleep in the bed across the room from me.

She was blonde, the angel, and just so pretty. And she told me things I eagerly believed. All about destiny and dreams manifesting, hearts rejoicing and being fulfilled. She told me this in pictures, you know; not words, as such.

It had something to do with a guitar.

So I begged my dad to buy me one. He said no. I begged again. He said no. I begged some more and he said, “If you don’t shut the fuck up, Christmas is never gonna come.” And he kicked me.

Right on my little shin. My left shin. It hurt like hell. I was just a little boy.

But Christmas morning came and there it was. A big red bow stuck on it and everything. A beautiful acoustic guitar. I don’t know how he afforded it. He worked, and all that, but, man, booze is expensive and he was always drunk.

And then he helped me learn how to play.

He sat me right down on the couch in the front room there, and he taught me C, D, and G. And he said, “These are easy chords. You learn ‘em and you can play about 50% of everything. So just learn ‘em.”

I was stunned, you know? I had no idea he knew how to play a guitar. There were no musical instruments in our house at all. Nothing to indicate I’d come from any sort of musical lineage.

But that Christmas morning, he lit a cigarette, sat down on the couch with my brand new guitar and said, “Sit right next to me here so you can see.” And so I sat down next to him.

He put the neck of the guitar in front of me, his arm came around me – a man who never even hugged me or got demonstrative in any way. His arm goes around me and he takes my little left hand in his and with his what seemed to me to be huge fingers, he helped me shape the chords right there on the frets of the guitar. And by lunch time on Christmas Day, I was playing it. Really playing it, you know?

Because he was right. You can play 50% of everything that’s worth playing in rock & roll with those three chords.

“Oh yeah, your daddy used to play,” my mama said a little while later, while she and I were sitting at the kitchen table, alone. “He played all the time when we were first dating.”

This, of course, was startling news to me. “But it bothered him, you know,” she went on. “Because his daddy – your grandpa, who you never met because he died so young – was a drunk. He drank himself to death when he was 49 years old. And all he did when he was alive was haul your daddy around with him – a beat-up guitar and your daddy. And he’d go hang out in this little bar called the Pissin’ Weasel.” My mama laughed then. She was so pretty when she laughed. “It wasn’t really called that. It was something like the Piston Wheel, or something similar. But your daddy always called it the Pissin’ Weasel. Your daddy’s so funny.”

My daddy was funny? The same man who kicked me on my left shin because my wanting a guitar had irritated him?

“Well, your grandpa would play that guitar for hours on end in that bar and just get so drunk. Made your daddy stay there with him, hour after hour, listening to your grandpa sing those old hillbilly songs. Your daddy didn’t call it singing, though. He called it caterwauling like a drunk skunk in a steel leg-hold trap. And then when it got near closing time, your grandpa would make your daddy drive them both home. Your daddy was just a child. A little boy. He could barely see above the steering wheel!”

My mama went on to explain that it hadn’t mattered at all how angry that whole scene had made my daddy as a little boy, he still grew up playing the guitar. And before long, he was playing it and singing in bars.

“And that’s what he was doing when we met,” she said. “I thought he was the best looking young man I had ever seen. And the way he sang could just melt your heart. I always tried to dress up as pretty as I could – well, as I could afford to, at any rate. And I’d go listen to your daddy sing and hope that he would notice me. And of course, he did. Because I was always there. And then, you know…”

She sat there at the kitchen table and smiled at me in the most beautiful and yet peculiar way. And in the softest, prettiest voice, she said: “Now, don’t you ever tell anybody on Earth that I told you this. But it was right around the time that your daddy and me got married – right around that time; very, very close – we found out I was gonna have you.”

Then she winked at me! I was way too young to have any clue what she’d meant by that. That cute little wink just stumped me. I’d never seen my mama do a thing like that before. It wasn’t until I was a little older and just by accident happened to do the math regarding their wedding day and my birthday. Then it all came together and made great big sense.

They’d been doing it before they got married.

And I was the reason they’d gotten married.

And having a new mouth to feed is what caused my daddy to quit playing his guitar and singing in bars and to go to work at a regular job, because he didn’t want to end up like his own father had – a drunk, caterwauling in a bar, dragging his son around so that he could get a sober ride home at closing time. But instead, my daddy became a drunk who had a regular job that bored him to tears and dreams so dead it filled him with nothing but anger.

Anger and a little rage.

But that Christmas morning, he was patient with me. For the first and last time, if I remember right.

He took my fingers in his and pressed them down on the strings against the frets and said, “No, son, like this. Press a bit harder. Let each of those notes really ring. It’ll hurt, at first, but you’ll get callouses and it’ll be fun to play. You won’t notice any pain.”

Right away, I started writing songs. But I didn’t tell anybody. My brother knew, but I made him swear not to tell a soul. I’m not sure why it bothered me that I was writing so many songs, or why I didn’t want anyone to know. I guess because, down in my heart, I knew I really, really wanted to go hang out in bars and sing and play my guitar. And I knew that wasn’t gonna go over at all in my house. Just not at all. And I was right. Because as soon as I got just a little bit older and started playing music with my buddies and practicing out in the garage like everybody else was doing back then, it pissed my daddy off to no end.

Even though he let us use our garage most of the time. I could tell it made him mad. My grades were suffering and he could see I had no thought in my head about getting a regular job, or going to college, or anything like that.

When I was 18, I left home with my guitar and a couple of the guys I’d been playing music with around town, and my girlfriend – who later became my first wife. We were all going to New York because I was gonna go get famous. I knew I would. I knew I had it in me. I knew my songs were good. But when I was leaving, my daddy took me aside and said, “Just try to keep it in your pants, son. Because there’s no quicker way to kill a dream. You will kill it quick and hard if she gets knocked up. It costs money to feed a kid. More money than you’ve ever seen.”

We all piled into the van and I left my daddy standing there in the driveway, just standing there, staring at me, a look on his face that seemed to say that, even though my little brother had eventually come along, too, and my little sister after that, it was me; I was the one whose mouth had been impossible to feed. I was the one whose hunger had cost him more money than my daddy had ever seen.

When I got a record deal, and when my songs got on the radio, and I got written up in magazines – it made my dad happy. It did. You had to know him pretty well to see it. It wasn’t easy to see the difference in my daddy looking drunk and angry and my daddy looking proud of me. But I knew the difference, and that’s what mattered.

By the time my daddy died, I was really famous. Famous, with two little girls who always had food in front of them whenever they sat down at the table. Girls who’d been conceived in love. Who were sheltered by love. Who were nothing but love to me.

It didn’t hardly cost me anything to feed those girls.

*************

This entry was posted in Fall 2019: Heavens Revealed.. Bookmark the permalink.

Non parliamo di Trump o del tempo! Parliamo dell’amore!

Yes, indeed! Why talk about Trump or the weather, when we can talk about love??!!

I’m not really sure what to do about me and my Italian lessons, gang. I do great on all my many quizzes.  But the moment I’m not looking at the app, I pretty much forget every single Italian word I know.

Okay. The Fall Issue of The Exterminating Press Magazine, Heavens Revealed,  is now online.  So, at long last, here is the link to the excerpt they published from my new novel, Blessed By Light. It is Chapter 18: The Guitar Hero Goes Home.

The Guitar Hero Goes Home.

Well, apparently every single solitary soul in Minneapolis follows rules to a “t”.  Because not a single solitary post from inside Nick Cave’s Conversation last night has been posted to Instagram. Only photos from outside the venue have posted. These, of course, are meaningless to me!

However, people did indeed say that the show was incredible. So I’m going strictly on word-of-mouth for this one, gang. It’s really nice, though, that people are finally putting their phones away. (I’m guessing this means that we get to redo the Town Hall show in NYC, and this time have it be phone free!! Yay!! I’m so excited!!)

Okay, well. As I sit here waiting for pigs to fly… (Honestly, I wouldn’t trade the memory of Town Hall for anything, even with its annoyances. Of course, I had that amazing time at Lincoln Center, too, so it’s not like I’ve been deprived of anything.)

I’m doing really good here today, gang. I’m feeling really quiet at the soul level.  I finally slept good. No coughing at all, so I think the cold is at long last gone.

At the breakfast table this morning, listening of course to Tom Petty and thinking about the nature of Life and how it not only ends and moves on but it also constantly circles back in these predictable seasons; I noticed that the sun is taking a while to come up now. At 7 a.m. the sky was just barely light, so it is clearly really fall.  And I am doing okay with it. With the summer being gone, I mean.

I’m feeling like I can handle everything again.  Or maybe even for the first time, ever. I think that it actually is for the first time ever. What I have normally done all my life is cope and survive. And now what I feel like I’m doing is actually living. So that’s pretty cool, right?

I spent several hours hanging out on my bed in the dark last night, being okay with saying goodbye to the wonderful “dead guy”. I didn’t even feel his spirit in my room, as I sometimes do. But I was okay with it. And I was remembering the most amazing summer of my life with him (spent entirely in my bedroom and in my kitchen). And I cannot tell you just how grateful I am that he even came into my world so unexpectedly and so briefly, because it truly changed me.

I was sitting on my bed in the dark, looking out my window at the night and thinking about just how different I actually am now. He taught me so many things about myself. Things I wasn’t happy with and so I changed. I actually changed.

One thing he did was taught me about boundaries, in this very interesting way. Very self-affirming. I had this way of making self-disparaging remarks and it really bothered him that I did that. And I had no clue just how often I did that — said negative things about myself. Early on, he said there were going to be boundaries — things I wasn’t allowed to say anymore.  I simply couldn’t say them; he didn’t want to hear these things coming out of my mouth ever again.

So then, when I would even start to make a negative comment about myself, he would just say, “Boundaries…” and I’d have to shut up. Like, immediately. And that was when I realized just how negative I was about myself, you know? Because he was constantly saying, “Boundaries…” and I’d have to shut up.

And then when I would shut up – you know, sudden dead silence — then I’d be forced to think about what I’d been getting ready to say. And it totally trained me to stop talking that way about myself. And eventually, I  stopped even thinking in that really negative way.

The hardest thing I ever had to do was this other thing he came up with. I had this deep-rooted understanding about my life, as I was growing up, that I was not loved. And from that, I determined that I was never going to be loved. Love just did not exist for me. I knew people felt grateful to me, appreciated me, and all that, and I had a huge capacity to give love, but being loved never entered into it. I could not even imagine being loved. 57 years of that.

My mind could go to some really dark places very quickly back then. My whole demeanor could turn on a dime. Stuff that really alarmed him because he was just not a negative person, at all. I really wanted to be loved. I really, really did. But I literally could not believe that I was. Long story short, whenever I would even begin to go someplace dark or say something that indicated I couldn’t accept that he loved me, I had to make direct eye contact with him and say to him, “Thank you for loving me” ten times!!

I actually really had to do this. He would count up to ten! And I can’t tell you how difficult it was for me to do that those first few times. It was nearly impossible. It was as if my brain was completely re-wiring itself. It was so hard. But as the process went on, it not only became easier, but I actually believed him. And things inside me permanently changed. I finally understood myself to be someone who was loved.

Anyway. That is only a drop in the bucket of things he helped me break free of.  Helped me restore to myself. And I know that it’s important now for me to live my life — to actually live it and not go on to the next realm prematurely. But stay here and get the most joy out of being physical as I can until it’s really time to go.

So. Back to Tom Petty. Back to October — the month that he was born in and died in. I’ll close with the song that ended up really defining him — the song he wrote when he was finally able to process the death of his mom. He allegedly wrote the song in one fell swoop. He woke up at 3 in the morning, hearing it inside his head. Got out of bed, went to the piano, turned on the tape recorder and the entire song just came out; he never had to change a word. Then he went back to bed and woke up his wife, Jane, and said, “Listen to what just came out of me!” And so she listened to the tape and said, “That’s nice, dear,” and rolled over and went back to sleep.

And the rest is history. There isn’t a single Tom Petty fan anywhere who doesn’t know every single word to this song –we could sing it in our sleep. And we process his beautiful mom’s death right along with him, eternally. Forever and ever.

Okay. Thanks for visiting, gang.  Have a great Wednesday, wherever you are in the world. I love you guys! See ya.

“Southern Accents”

There’s a southern accent, where I come from
The young ‘uns call it country, the yankees call it dumb
I got my own way of talking, but everything gets done
With a southern accent, where I come from

Now that drunk tank in Atlanta, is just a motel room to me
Think I might go work Orlando, if them orange groves don’t freeze
Got my own way of working, but everything is run
With a southern accent, where I come from

For just a minute there I was dreaming
For just a minute it was all so real
For just a minute she was standing there, with me

There’s a dream I keep having, where my mama comes to me
And kneels down over by the window, and says a prayer for me
Got my own way of praying, but every one’s begun
With a southern accent, where I come from

Got my own way of living, but everything gets done
With a southern accent, where I come from

c- 1985 Tom Petty

How Nice!! My Brain Returned!!

That’s good news, right? I woke up this morning and had a functioning human brain again!

Of course, the slightly bad news is that I still can’t wrap my mind around those extensive notes for the ending segment of Tell My Bones, and my mind seems to be leaning toward writing the next installment of In the Shadow of Narcissa this morning anyway. So I’m getting the feeling that I’m gonna do that.

And then maybe vacuum the house…

And then maybe sit and think about the play…

Sandra finally texted yesterday that she liked the new version but wasn’t understanding how we were going to do a staged reading of it because it now feels so cinematic.

AAAAACCHHH!!

I totally forgot that I have to completely rewrite the staged reading version of the play now, too. (And if you’re deranged enough to be following the progress of all of my far-flung projects, you might recall that I have yet to revise the show bible for Cleveland’s Burning since I did the 4th draft of it back in October…) (And the veteran African-American television actor who was negotiating with me to attach  himself to the TV pilot to play the grandfather role, decided to die the other day. Literally. Peitor texted me from Italy on Friday saying only: “John died.” Oh fuck, now that’s good news…) (And all of my own selfish needs aside; that guy was a really, really nice man.)

Anyway.

I cannot even begin to comprehend how to write the staged reading version of Tell My Bones at this point, without the director basically drawing me a detailed blue print & map. Either that, or I’ll just shoot myself and hope for a better, non-writing, life next time around.

Honestly. I cannot even begin to imagine what the staged reading of this version of the play is gonna look like. I simply cannot.

However, what I told Sandra is: no worries, we all just need to have a chat about it in person once I get there, figure it all out! She texted back a cheery “thumb’s up.”

So we’ll just see what the heck the future brings re: this amazing play because I sure as hell cannot figure it out.

I actually can’t figure anything out. To be honest, way down deep at the core of everything, I don’t even know what Life is or why I exist. I’m just wingin’ it on every level, pretty much every day.

Before I forget — please be on the lookout for the upcoming Fall Issue of the Exterminating Angel Press Magazine (online) because they have an excerpt of my new novel, Blessed By Light, in there!! They’re printing Chapter 18, which is titled, “The Guitar Hero Goes Home.” I will, of course, keep you posted.

All righty. That said, while I still have a functioning brain around here today, I’m gonna scoot and take a look at how I feel about writing a new segment for In the Shadow of Narcissa. And then, depending on how I end up feeling about that, I’ll either write or vacuum. And try not to think about this indescribably stressful trip that is now looming — 3 days away. (And why I decided not to fly… I just don’t understand me sometimes.) (And my TSA Precheck number arrived yesterday — in plenty of time for that flight I’m now not taking.)

Okay. Have a beautiful Sunday, wherever you are in the world. And if you’d like to apply for the job of being my BRAIN, do get in touch. God knows there is often a vacancy there. Thanks for visiting, gang. I love you guys! See ya!

Oh, and the Stateside leg of the Conversations with Nick Cave (aka In Conversation, and Words + Music) begins in, like 5 days….. Can you believe that?  Where is the time fucking going??!!.

Okay. I leave you with this! (Yes, more soul-wreching Dalida! Always a good indication that my sanity is sort of sliding away… Enjoy, gang!)

“La petite maison bleue”

La petite maison bleue
Est envahie de silence
La maison de mon enfance
Me fait mal quand je la voisC’est pourtant plus fort que moi
J’y retournerai sans doute
Je reprendrai cette route
Qui mène à mes souvenirs

C’est ici que j’ai grandi
Que j’ai découvert la vie
Ces beaux jours s’enfuient déjà
Revibrant toujours en moi

La petite maison bleue
A mes yeux reste la même
C’est ici que ceux que j’aime
Ont connu des jours heureux

Ma jeunesse est restée là
Au détour de ce chemin
Ma jeunesse est restée là
Quelquepart dans ce jardin

La petite maison bleue
Est envahie de tristesse
Mais elle est pour moi quand même
La maison des jours heureux

La maison des jours heureux

c – 1968 Detto Mariano, Don Backy, Michel Jourdan

All the Sweet Things A Girl Remembers

I didn’t make much headway in “Baltimore” yesterday (Letter #3 in Girl in the Night: Erotic Love Letters to the Muse) because, frankly, I was absolutely exhausted.

I had the file open on the laptop all day, while my actual body was mostly collapsed on the bed all day! And I did do a little bit of laundry, but not much.

Today, I feel totally revived, though, and will work on “Baltimore”.

And yesterday afternoon, the first responses to the newly revised script for Tell My Bones came in and I could not have been happier with the comments. In all honesty, it made my day.  I feel like I achieved on paper what I was trying to accomplish, and I couldn’t have done it without the director’s complete emotional involvement and his really targeted notes. I know that whoever goes to see this play will not forget Helen LaFrance, her art or her life, ever.

So I’m taking some time here to just be really happy — before all the actual business part of it begins.

I’m hoping to finish “Baltimore” before I go get my mom, early next week. And I’m also hoping to get one more segment of In the Shadow of Narcissa written before that, too.  Of course, I will have some free time in that Airbnb to write, if I want to. I’m not sure what I’m going to really be doing all 3 of those days that I’ll be in the Airbnb — when I am not seeing/listening to Nick Cave converse with people at night. I know I’ll be having some sort of meetings re: the play, but certainly not on all 3 of the days, so we’ll see. I’m not planning on being too social, so only a couple of people know I’m even going to be in town (she says as she posts it to her fucking blog…).

Anyway.

Loyal readers of this lofty (fucking) blog will be happy to note that I have started a little pile of things that must accompany me on the trip and I managed to remember to put both tickets to see Nick Cave in that pile!! There is every indication that those tickets, that I’ve had for like 4 months already, will indeed make it with me to New York!! (Without me needing to actually staple them to my forehead.)

As my trip approaches, the very real drama of how my many intensely feral cats will deal with my going away again begins. Since we came to this house, they have gotten really weird about me going away. I’m hoping that had more to do with the previous cat sitter, and not with the actual cats. My mom is a huge lover of animals and has been around all kinds of animals her whole life — horses, donkeys, cows, pigs, dogs galore, and a ton of stray cats. So I’m hoping the cats will be cool with her energy being here.

When I went to LA for 5 days last December, the cats had an absolute field day pissing on my bed. It was absolutely unbelievable.  And I didn’t get home from the airport until about 3am that time, and to come in and find my bed like that — it was almost more than I could comprehend. It was saturated with cat piss. Pillows, bedspread, blankets, sheets — it soaked through two layers of foam mattress padding. It was just unreal.

Nothing says, “We are so fucking mad at you for leaving us with a stranger” than a queen-sized bed soaked in cat piss.

So I’m hoping for something less dramatic this time, even though I’ll actually be away for a longer time period. I’m putting my mom in my own bedroom, and letting the cats have the guestroom, which is where they like to sleep, so that they feel less disrupted.

I’m sort of hoping my mom doesn’t go through all my stuff but in all honesty, if she went away for a week and I was staying in her room, I’d probably go through all her stuff….

It’s not like she doesn’t already know I’m nuts so I guess it doesn’t really matter. She can go through my stuff if she feels like it.

Last night, I had the most amazing dream that Bunny, my sweet cat who died the morning after we moved to the rental house a couple years ago, had come back. I think she really was alive in my dream — meaning, she was there. She felt so real. God, it was so wonderful to hold her again.

She was such a sweet, compassionate cat. She started out as a semi-feral kitten. I got her and her brother, Buster, from a cat rescue in Times Square in NYC. They had been born behind a deli. Unlike these intensely feral cats I have now (I was supposed to only be fostering these ones I have now, but the cat rescue places got overloaded that year and so I wound up being their permanent home — and it’s not easy having a houseful of cats who won’t let you even touch them, and who run and hide whenever you walk into a room they’re in, and multiply that times 7 years already — it’s a wee bit alienating).

Anyway, Bunny became a really loving and demonstrative cat over time. I loved her so dearly. I woke from the dream feeling like I’ve somehow got to get her back. I miss her so much. But of course, it can’t happen. Still it was so wonderful to hang out with her in my dream.

Here’s some photos of her in the last house, before we got the rental. She moved 5 times with me, but the final move was so stressful on her that she suffered a heart attack.

Me and Bunny just chillin’ in my old bedroom in August 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bunny taking a break from playing the piano in 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bunny hanging with me on the couch, the first Christmas after her brother, Buster, died. (New Year’s Day 2014)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moments later… (New Year’s Day 2014)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, gang. On that note, I’m gonna scoot and get back to “Baltimore”!

I hope you have a terrific Thursday, wherever you are in the world! Thanks for visiting. I love you guys. See ya.

“She’s Got You”

I’ve got your picture that you gave to me
And it’s signed with love, just like it used to be
The only thing different, the only thing new
I’ve got your picture, she’s got you
I’ve got the records that we used to share
And they still sound the same as when you were here
The only thing different, the only thing new
I’ve got the records, she’s got you

[Chorus]
I’ve got your memory or has it got me?
I really don’t know but I know it won’t let me be
I’ve got your class ring that proved you cared
And it still looks the same as when you gave it dear
The only thing different, the only thing new
I’ve got these little things, she’s got you

[Chorus]
I’ve got your memory or has it got me?
I really don’t know but I know it won’t let me be
I’ve got your class ring that proved you cared
And it still looks the same as when you gave it dear
The only thing different, the only thing new
I’ve got these little things, she’s got you

c – 1961 Hank Cochran

Me vs. Everything in the World!

I saw this illustration and it just felt like me as a reasonably happy little girl, and then, behind me in the bed, was everything else imaginable in the world that was waiting for me.

When I actually was a young girl, I never really related to the Little Red Riding Hood story. All the virginal symbolism of it and the whole “girl meets wolf” thing. It held no appeal to me.

The only fairy tales that I actually related to were Beauty and the Beast (the old, non-Disney version) because Love & Kindness trump everything else in the world always; and Rumpelstiltskin because the helpless girl was forced into that horrible situation, then became queen, and then, as queen, tricked that mean little guy and got to keep her baby. I liked that story a lot.

And I also loved the story Peter Pan. And I mean, I really loved that story — I loved Peter and totally related to him. (Perhaps that says a lot about the way I still live, I’m not sure. I sure as hell didn’t grow up — didn’t do the “Wendy” thing. So who knows.)

Well, anyway. I loved that photo of the moon last night, up over my barn (see post below). I just find this village so mysterious and magical. I really do. Loyal readers of this lofty blog perhaps recall that after my 4th weird near-death experience, which came just prior to meeting that older man who died (that I wrote about a couple days ago), my life seemed to change so dramatically that I began to wonder if I had actually died in the near-death experience and just hadn’t figured that out yet.

The man was still alive when I moved here, but not for long afterward. And I wondered if maybe he had only been sent into my life to help me cross over in some way. I often felt, when I first moved here, that the transition to this actual house, to this intensely spirit-filled town, was me moving into some sort of “between world” — no longer alive but not accepting death yet, but not knowing it. And readers perhaps recall that right after I moved here, the Latter Day Saints came into my world in the most amazingly joyful way. It only added to the intensity of me not feeling like I was alive anymore. (It is so hard to explain this if you don’t live in Muskingum County because it involves all these ancient burial mounds around here that are 2000 years old; they are considered sacred ground to the Mormons.)

To be honest, I still often feel that way — that I am not really alive anymore but haven’t figured out yet that I’m dead.  Mostly because there is no way to prove that it’s not true.  You know, there is no concrete way to prove I’m still alive and not actually dead, because everything could just be a sort of fake reality that I only think I’m perceiving.

When I saw that moon last night, and how amazing it looked over my barn, and how amazing this town feels at night — wondering why on Earth a woman like me, a woman who was always so intensely urban, who always wore a little black dress & black high heels everywhere she went, why she even has a barn; well, once again, it made me feel like I’m not really alive anymore. That I’m in some strange in-between place and I only think I’m still alive. Because I was just never, ever like this before.

Wherever this is, it’s really beautiful and I really love it here. But, wow, gang; I am really getting tired. I know it’s because I am doing so much writing; just nonstop — bringing everything from inside to the outside, nonstop for the last 12 months. Including the TV pilot (Cleveland’s Burning) that I went to LA about, which is still sitting in need of certain key people and very soon, I have to pitch that whole project to the Head of Programming of a huge streaming platform and I don’t have those key people in place that they asked for because I immediately wrote a novel, launched into that micro-video production company with Peitor, finished writing a play with Sandra, then wrote 2 entirely different versions of another play, became overwhelmed by the Girl in the Night  stories, and on and on…

Everything coming out of me and nothing has landed anywhere yet. And now the trip back to NYC is looming next week. It’s exhausting. So  much “outgoing” and absolutely no incoming. Well, certain indications of it, but nothing concrete yet. Just constant “outgo.”

Yesterday afternoon, the horrifically loud carbon monoxide alarm went off in my basement. Not a thing any homeowner wants to hear. I was working on Tell My Bones up in my room and suddenly it started shrieking. I went down to the scary 118-year-old basement, and down there, the alarm was just deafening. I couldn’t get the alarm to shut off, and for a few minutes, I stood there and stared at it, knowing I should call the fire department. But wondering if this might not just be the best thing in the long run.

I eventually did go get my phone and was about to dial 911 when the alarm shut off. And none of the other alarms in the house ever came on, and God knows, the house is well ventilated with 21 wide open windows. But, Jesus, I am just so tired.

St. Christopher actually was a saint, don’t let them persuade you otherwise. He did exist; he’s not some myth, although his actual name was slightly different. And if you talk to St. Christopher, he listens. You can actually feel him listening to you.  You know, I am still doing that segment-intending stuff, trying to survive my life in 5-hour chunks right now, but still not knowing how I am going to survive that trip back to NYC. All the driving and then dealing with everything I have to deal with there. But then I heard St. Christopher in my head, saying that he was going to take care of the whole trip, and not to worry. That I was going to have a great time.

I believe him. He is the patron saint of travelers, after all. Especially of 12-year-old girls who are suddenly driving grown-up cars…

Well, anyway. That’s where I am today. Not really the best head space, but I’m trying. I must get back to the play. It is almost done.  So I will close this. I’ll leave you with the 3 songs I was listening to on my phone this morning, around 4am, when I was wondering if I’d ever finish this play and/or even bother to get out of bed again. Thanks for visiting! I love you guys. See ya.

Where Does it Go?

Man, I woke up this morning finally feeling defeated.

For the third morning in a row, the house was really cold and I had to face the fact that I needed to close some of my windows.

It just doesn’t seem fair. It’s still only August and it feels like the whole Universe is trying to tell me that the summer is over. How did it slip through my fingers like that? It makes me so incredibly sad.

And I texted Sandra, finally, because I needed to face the fact that I have to talk on the phone with her as soon as she’s back in New York and discuss these many revisions I’m doing to Tell My Bones and just see what she has to say about it, and I am well aware that this could drastically change the scope of my entire trip to NYC in a few weeks. (Plus, I have to get a new car and I should probably do that before I go to NYC. Just all this major stress stuff.)

The director should be emailing me this morning about my most recent pages, and hopefully have some suggestions about how I can best proceed out of the morass I’m currently in with the script.  So I know that will help combat my feelings of defeat. Plus, the guy I was giving piano lessons to — he actually put his house up for sale many weeks ago, and he has finally moved to a new house and is unpacking so, soon, the piano lessons will resume and that will make me feel happy.

However, these things won’t make the summer last longer.

During breakfast, I kept thinking about this time last year, and how incredible it was. I suddenly began writing Blessed By Light, a novel unlike anything I’d ever written and my life began to get magical. And also during the last 2 weeks of August last year, my house was filled with all those amazing furnace repair guys. They were updating all the ducts and upgrading my furnace and they were just such amazingly cool, good-looking Hillbilly-Deluxe hippie guys — I loved having them here, even though I was trying to write a new novel the whole time.

But it had felt like fucking summer still, you know? Last year, the summer lasted all summer.

I just can’t get used to how quickly time flies, the older I get. It’s the only thing about getting older that I can’t handle so well.

After breakfast, I did my meditation but it didn’t help. My thoughts wound up drifting right back to the weather. You know, I look at the weather forecast for the upcoming week and it will be, like, the most perfect weather imaginable: 80s Fahrenheit in the daytime and down to the upper 50s at night. Perfect weather. My absolute favorite kind of weather. Why am I so depressed about it? It’s all about my windows: I just hate having to close my windows because that just makes me feel like it’s Fall. It’s hard to believe that closing some of my windows could make me feel this depressed.

I finally gave up trying to meditate because it clearly wasn’t happening today. I laid in bed for awhile, just thinking about feeling so defeated.  Why does my brain suddenly take these hard detours down paths that aren’t good for me to think about? It doesn’t help anything.

And then I suddenly remembered that tomorrow is the anniversary of Greg’s death. It could be that that’s what is underlying all this. I remembered what the weather was like that week he died. So hot, so sunny. Back then, no one went back to school until early September, so it was still very much “summer.”  I remembered going to the corn festival the night after Greg died — a sort of County Fair — and how intensely difficult that was for me to process; all that frivolity and yet Greg was dead. I remembered going to the funeral home, too, and not expecting it to be an open casket since he had been killed in an accident. But the damage had been done to the back of his head, so his parents had an open casket viewing. And when I walked into that funeral home and unexpectedly saw him there, I wanted to die myself and the hardest part was knowing that I wouldn’t. And the funeral itself was on the most beautiful sunny, hot summer day.

Jesus Christ. 45 years ago. I don’t understand where that time went. As I was lying in bed, I was thinking about some of my friends from that era, and most of the girls I knew back then are all grandmothers now. And I still feel 12. I don’t understand that. I don’t know why I can’t grow up, like everybody else did. It made me feel really, really sad this morning. I got older, but I didn’t grow up.

Anyway. Hopefully, as the day goes on, I will feel better about everything. Nick Cave is in Helsinki tonight so there should be stuff on Instagram. I always love that. A couple of people have posted from there already. Currently, some one has posted that he/she is absolutely thrilled about tonight. I don’t know the gender of Finnish names, but whoever it is, this person is extremely happy and is on a train heading there as I type!

So, well, life goes on.

Have a good Monday, wherever you are in the world. Thanks for visiting. I love you guys. See ya.

The Gentle Joys of Summer!!

After my little trip down memory lane to Arkansas, in yesterday’s post, I spent a lot of time thinking about Johnny Cash.

He was a huge part of my wee bonny girlhood, on up through my entire adult life. I loved Johnny Cash.

In Cleveland, in the era that I grew up in, radio stations would play all kinds of music. You didn’t tune to one specific station to hear a certain type of music you liked. Each station played everything, although Cleveland was a huge rock & roll city, so there was a lot of that on the radio. But they also played Country — the old style, or what I would call actual Country music: Country & Western.

So in my childhood, I was exposed to a lot of Country music. On the radio on the school bus, for instance, The Doors singing “Light My Fire,” would be followed by Merle Haggard singing “I’m Proud to be an Okie from Muskogee.”

And Johnny Cash was just huge; he was so popular. “A Boy Named Sue” — we were all just little kids, and we’d all sing along to that on the school bus! Really gleefully, we’d all shout out: “My name is SUE!! How do you do!!”

I adored that song he sang with June, “Jackson.” Still love that song. And for a while he had that variety show on TV that I just loved.

By the time I was 11, we moved to Columbus –a town I have never, ever been fond of, but I did like that in Columbus there was even more Country & Western on the radio than there’d been up in Cleveland.

Literally, Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” would be followed up with Jeanne Pruett singing “Satin Sheets.” (I totally loved that song! Here it is, in fact! This song was probably the main reason why I grew up believing that rich men were never gonna be good in bed. ) (I won’t say whether or not that ended up being true… you decide.)

But after we moved to Columbus, I got to do that truly awesome thing that happened every August: Attend the Ohio State Fair!!

Back then, the fair was a really big deal.  It took place during the last couple weeks of summer, so it meant that all your summer dreams & summer loves were coming to an end.  And the midway was lit up at night with all those amusement rides and there was all that food that was so bad for you. And everything just felt electrifying because you knew the summer was as a good as over and pretty soon you’d be back in school (which I hated — I absolutely hated school. I just wanted to sit in my room and play records or play my guitar).

The other thing the Ohio State Fair was known for, though, was its live entertainment. And the very first time I got to go to the fair, the summer when I was 11, guess who was playing there that night? Johnny Cash!

Oh my god, I wanted to see him so badly. But it was already late, the sun had gone down. My dad just wanted to go home.

There was a huge cement wall, the back-end of where all the seats were for the audience to sit in, and it blocked the actual stage from the midway, but you could hear perfectly. I remember standing outside that huge wall, the lights of the midway all lit up all around me, the sky beyond us black, and then the audience just roared, you know? Just roared. Their excitement was not to be believed. And then the jangly country guitar kicked in and I actually heard him shout, “Hello! I’m Johnny Cash!” and the audience went crazy.

And I couldn’t fucking see anything and I wanted so badly to go inside! My dad was dragging me by my arm, “Marilyn, come on, we’re going to the car!” I had tears in my eyes; I was begging him — and I was not a kid who ever begged for anything, ever. But I was begging my dad, “Please! I want to see Johnny Cash!”

“You’re not going to see Johnny Cash!” (I was too young to know then that Johnny Cash audiences consisted more of hard-drinking, chain-smoking, shit-kicking rowdy adults, and not shy 11-year-old girls.)

I really was devastated.

By then, at age 11, my favorite Johnny Cash song was “Folsom Prison Blues” recorded live at Folsom Prison. I had the single and I played it all the time and knew every word and every single guitar note on that record and every single place where the audience would cheer and holler.

(I knew he was singing in a prison, but I still thought of them as an “audience.”)

I loved Johnny Cash all through my life, even his Christian phase. I guess he was always a Christian, but he found Jesus and dropped drugs at one point and sang a lot of songs that were more in that vein for awhile.

When I was in the mental hospital, I had a serious drug problem. Sleeping pills — at my worst point, before I attempted suicide & was then put into the mental hospital, I could take as many as 15 sleeping pills in a day and still be walking around. I had built up a tolerance to them, you know. Nowadays, if I took 15 sleeping pills in a day, I would be dead pretty darn quickly.

By age 14, I started getting an endless supply of the pills for “free” — meaning that a sleazy dentist whose kids I used to babysit for, illegally kept thousands of secobarbitals in huge jugs in his upstairs linen closet. He was married but he was fucking around with my best friend, who was 16 at the time and also one of his babysitters (this was when we were all living in that 1970s swinging-sex apartment complex place that I blogged about recently) and part of getting us to not spill the beans to his wife that he was fucking one of the babysitters was giving us a massive amount of free drugs.

Married men did this a lot back then — maybe they still do it, I don’t know. But the wife would make plans to go out somewhere, and the husband would make plans to go out somewhere, so they’d need to hire a babysitter. But as soon as the wife was safely off doing her thing, the husband would circle back home and hit on the babysitter.

It happened to all of us babysitting-girls in the apartment complex. It happened to me, too, but it always totally creeped me out.  I knew exactly what was going on when the guys would suddenly “be home” but I would just play dumb. I’d say things, like, “Well, since you’re home now, I guess I can I go.” Once I left without getting paid because the guy really, really wanted me to stay and I just wanted to get the fuck out of there. Another time, I actually gave a man my 16-year-old girl friend’s phone number and told him to call her because I knew she didn’t mind fucking any of those guys & would come right over. And both of them — my girlfriend and the man whose kids I had just been babysitting — said, “Wow, thanks!”

I’m serious.

(If you’re too young to have been a teenager in the 1970s, I assure you it was off-the-charts fucked-up, because all the “adults” all over the whole fucking country were trying to “figure themselves out” at the very same time.)

I was told I was being taken to a mental hospital about 5 minutes before they told me to get in the car. You know, they sprang it on me so that I couldn’t run away. They told me to grab some clothes and that was it. But before I left my bedroom, in a total panic, I flushed hundreds of those pills down the toilet. I already had one arrest on my criminal record and I was afraid that if they found those pills while I was gone, I’d be sent to Reform School after the mental hospital…

I think you can see that my life was getting pretty awful and my range for reasoning was getting pretty narrow.

However, while in the hospital, I had to attend “school.” We will not discuss what school was like in a mental hospital.  But one afternoon, they made us listen to a tape recording of Johnny Cash urging us to not take drugs.

He talked about his life of pill-taking and how fucked up it had made his life. At his worst, he took something like 98 amphetamine tablets a day, and except for the fact that I was taking pills that put me in the other direction, I could totally relate to what he was saying. And after that, I really tried hard to not take any more pills. I really did. It took about ten more years to truly be able to stop all  the drugs, but I was at least trying after that. I really was. I didn’t trust any adults, at all, except a couple of my English teachers. So I never went to anyone for any kind of help. I always just tried to figure out my problems on my own.

But that’s how much I loved Johnny Cash. Because of him, I tried really hard to stop taking drugs. I did.

When I was in my 30s, in NYC, I finally got to see Johnny Cash live. He played at the Ritz, but this was when they’d moved the Ritz to the old Studio 54 space in midtown Manhattan.

He was older by then, of course, but Parkinson’s had not set in yet. He could still sing and play that guitar like nobody’s business. The incredible Marty Stuart (who was still his son-in-law at that point, I think) played in the band. It was an incredible show. I cried when he finally sang “Folsom Prison Blues” and I realized that I was a lot closer to him, standing there by the stage at the Ritz, then I would have been back in the bleachers at the Ohio State Fair. How cool, right?

Well, okay!! My meeting with the director yesterday was so good, gang. Just really, really good. And I need to get started on the rest of the play now. I have a lot of really complicated stuff to tackle in the current segment that I’m in.

Plus, there’s a new Red Hand Files newsletter from Nick Cave in my inbox!! So I need to go read that!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, wherever you are in the world!! Thanks for visiting, gang. I know you know what I’m leaving you with today!! Enjoy!! I love you guys. See ya!

“Folsom Prison Blues”

I hear the train a comin’
It’s rolling round the bend
And I ain’t seen the sunshine since I don’t know when
I’m stuck in Folsom prison, and time keeps draggin’ on
But that train keeps a rollin’ on down to San Antone

When I was just a baby my mama told me, “Son
Always be a good boy, don’t ever play with guns”
But I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die
When I hear that whistle blowing, I hang my head and cry

I bet there’s rich folks eating in a fancy dining car
They’re probably drinkin’ coffee and smoking big cigars
Well I know I had it coming, I know I can’t be free
But those people keep a movin’
And that’s what tortures me

Well if they freed me from this prison
If that railroad train was mine
I bet I’d move it on a little farther down the line
Far from Folsom prison, that’s where I want to stay
And I’d let that lonesome whistle blow my blues away

c – 1955 Johnny Cash

Get Ready to Not See Me For a Long Time!!

Yes, I was exactly right.

The meeting with the director lasted 3 hours and what was it about? Pages & pages of reasons why I need to revise Tell My Bones yet again to make the play more like the screenplay.

After I’d spent God knows how many days in an unbearable heatwave, revising the play for the millionth time.

The director does not read my blog. However, you, loyal readers, do. So you know I went into that meeting yesterday knowing he was going to say that.

So I’d had a whole night to sleep on it. I knew it was coming.  And I know, with all certainty, that the Universe is somehow going to deliver to me the final version of Tell My Bones that puts the darn screenplay up on that stage. Finally.

I’m not telling Sandra, yet. (She doesn’t read my blog, either.) Because my main concern right now is getting this revised play as close to finished as I can get it in the next 2 weeks. Sandra went through a lot just to free her schedule and make time to fly into this tiny town in Ohio for 3 days so when she gets here, she’d better have something to rehearse or it’s not gonna be funny.

I honestly don’t think she’s going to care which version of the play we run with, as long as she’s got something that she knows is good. (Or gets her a Tony nomination — one or the other. Preferably both.)

The stress was off the charts for me yesterday, gang.  However, a huge part of the problem of revising the screenplay for the stage was always how to stage some of things I was seeing in my head. And one of the (many) nice things the director said to me yesterday was that it’s not my job to stage it. It’s only my job to write it and let him do his job of staging it.

So that helped a lot. I’m not going to worry about staging it or about budget, either. I’m just going to write it down.

Within all that stress of me feeling “how the hell am I going to do this in 2 weeks?!” I sort of lost sight of all the incredible things the director was saying about my screenplay. It eventually did sink in after I left the meeting. That what he’s saying, in essence, is: take all these wonderful words you’ve already written and just put it on the stage. Of course, it’s not really that simple, but in a way, the words are the hard part.

I’ve done this kind of intense rewrite/tight schedule thing before and the rewards were phenomenal for me. Back when I was working on the screenplay for DADAhouse. Frequently, the producers would decide that the entire script needed to be re-written over the weekend. I was always having to pull so many things out of my hat, while under incredible pressure. And eating only Powerbars and drinking nonstop Diet Cokes to somehow get through it.

Yet, when I did, the finished result was part of a 10-minute segment on HBO that really just blew people away — including me. It came off so cool. This was back in 1997, when most people weren’t even online yet — it was all dial-up and most people didn’t have home computers yet. But after that 10-minute segment ran on HBO, 28,000 people logged on to our web site within 20 minutes.

So all the fucking stress I’d gone through was worth it.

So I know that all this fucking stress is gonna be worth it, again.

When I got home from the meeting yesterday, I spent about 5 hours getting all the query letters and submission stuff together for the small presses re: Blessed By Light. Because I knew I was not gonna have another free minute to do that for the next couple of months. Why can’t small presses just have the same submission requirements all across the board?

Well, they don’t. So I had to do all that and check, and re-check, and double-triple check that I was sending the right requested materials to the correct publishers, etc., etc.  And in the middle of all that, Gus Van Sant Sr called again and asked me if I had all the legal documents drawn up…

ME (awkward, exhausted dead-brain-silence, then): “Um, I didn’t know you were expecting me to do that…”

HIM: “I’m just teasing you! We’re doing that.”

Oh my god, right? I’m supposed to be drawing up legal documents??!! I thought my brain would just crumble to dust when I heard that and I certainly didn’t want him to see that. Or to hear it over the phone. Thank god he was just kidding…

So today, I’m focusing on the next installment of In the Shadow of Narcissa to send to Edge of Humanity. And then I’m gonna get caught up on my Italian lessons — I’ve missed 3 in a row now plus my weekly quiz. And while all that is going on, I’ll have the new revisions for Tell My Bones gestating somewhere in that part of my brain that is directly connected to the Universe.

(And I have the best Muse, so I feel 100% confident that all of this is going to be great, once it’s all said & done.)

Okay, I gotta scoot! Have a wonderful Wednesday, wherever you are in the world, gang!!  I leave you with this: a painting by Helen LaFrance, the reason why I’m going through all this in the first place. (If you click on it, you will see the details of her work that will likely  stagger your mind – just imagine seeing one of these paintings in real life.) Thanks for visiting! I love you guys. See ya.

Canning Peaches by Helen LaFrance. Permanent Collection of Kentucky Folk Art Center at Morehead State University