Tag Archives: cats

Everything is just so much better!

I’m feeling lots better today. I’m not 100% yet, though. For some reason, any time I try to eat something, I feel like I’m going to throw it right back up. But then I don’t.

But I did get a lot of sleep, so that felt great.

I’ve also made incredible progress on the revisions of the play. Still have some really challenging segments left— but I am almost at the end of the play, and the stuff that I’ve done over the last couple days, I’m just really, really happy with. So it is almost done.

Speaking of the play and, therefore of Helen… I listened to Wanda’s radio interview that announced Helen’s 100th birthday celebration at the church in Mayfield— she talked a bit about the play and the DJ said that Kevin Connell has written it — which I found amusing because I think people still just naturally assume that when they see a man’s name, then the man did everything. And the DJ doesn’t seem to have seen my name at all. (Kevin is the director. We are both mentioned on the splash page of the website.)

In the old days, that would have made me nuts, but nowadays, it matters more to me that the play at least gets mentioned — and they got the name of the play correct! (Wanda got my name wrong — she’s known me 7 years already and still thinks my name is Mary Jane. You’d be surprised just how many people think my name is Mary Jane.)

Anyway. Helen had her birthday celebration today. I couldn’t attend — it’s a 12 hour drive from here. But we did send flowers. I hope it was an incredible time for everybody involved.

For no reason whatsoever, here’s a photo Peitor sent me of himself and his husband, Graham, playing Clue at their dining room table in West Hollywood on Halloween!! I wish I could have been there!! It’s been almost a year since I was with Peitor in LA.

Peitor is on our right and Graham, on the left!

I love playing Clue, by the way. It’s actually the only board game I like.  I’m not a big game player. (I guess you could take that a few ways! And they’d all be true…)

Okay, as much as I love summer and all that, tomorrow is my favorite day of the year — when we set our clocks back and get an extra hour of darkness in the morning!! I get up so early as it is that it’s kind of awesome to have yet another hour of darkness to lay in bed and drink coffee!!! And contemplate my Muse. Yay!!

Well I might be mistaken, but it did seem that by late yesterday, the free downloading of Ribbon of Darkness had ceased. I do appreciate that people wanted to read that. But still. And now it’s here on the site, so you can read it for free anyway.  I can’t believe it’s been 30 years since I met my real dad, and 20 years now since he died, at the age of 54. As difficult as all that stuff was back then, I’m glad I have that story to preserve my own memories, if nothing else.

All righty! I’m gonna study my Italian now. Enjoy what’s left of Saturday wherever you are in the world!! Thanks for visiting, gang. I love you guys. See ya.

Ciao!!!

My Morning Thus Far…

If you can imagine this, I am just now getting out of bed. It’s almost 10am. Unheard of around here.

Obviously, I am not feeling well…

I’m hoping it’s just some bit of nothing that I can sleep off — especially if my cats (as pictured above) continue to bring me tea in bed! I should be right as rain in no time!

I’m going to say one more thing about yesterday, and then I’m going to drop it. Because there are too many ways to look at things nowadays and I don’t want to just be some bitch. But that thing yesterday with some gaming guy putting Ribbon of Darkness into a torrent. It’s one thing to want to share something you like with some friends, or whatever. But by yesterday afternoon, nearly 3000 people had downloaded Ribbon of Darkness (a copyrighted novella) for free.

It’s just irritating.

The fact that it got 4.8 out of 5 stars by 2700 people, of course, made it easier to digest…Still. It’s just a drop in the bucket of all these things I have to see happen on the Internet — all over the world — that I can’t do anything about.

On a very different note:

Yesterday, Wanda Stubblefield, out in Mayfield, Kentucky, did a radio interview regarding Helen LaFrance’s 100th birthday, which is tomorrow.  If you’re interested, you can listen to her interview online here. (Even though Helen is in a nursing home, Wanda is her caretaker and connection to the outside world. She’s a wonderful human being and also has a part in the PLAY, which I must try to work on here.)

Okay, I’m gonna scoot. Thanks for visiting. I love you guys. See ya.

For Fuck’s Sake, Why Can’t Life Ever Just Stay Awesome?

It’s just been one of those days.

First. Work on the micro-short with Peitor went extremely well. We got great work done. We finished the 2nd segment of the script. 4 more segments to go.  The 2nd segment is approx. 90 seconds long. Still not a word of dialogue.

And the 2nd segment relies heavily on the filmmaking style Antonioni used in his movie from 1962, L’eclisse. Did you happen to see it? I thought you had! I know how much you enjoy black & white Italian movies from 1962. (You know, the reason Peitor and I have been friends for something like 35 fucking years is because when he said he wanted the segment to have the look of Antonioni’s L’eclisse, I knew exactly what he was talking about.) (Except for the part when she’s walking down the hall, I want the shots to have more of a feel of Polanski’s Repulsion but without all the arms molesting her. And I know you saw that!!)

Image result for polanski's repulsion
Catherine Deneuve in Polasnki’s Repulsion, 1965

By the way, our film is not in black & white. It’s just designed to feel like it is. And it’s not set in the 1960s, although our main character kind of is. (And as an aside, it’s kind of interesting that I didn’t end up like Deneuve’s character in Repulsion, all things considered. And even though today sort of sucks — overall, I think I’m doing pretty darned all right. However. If I end up wanting to eat an uncooked rabbit head that I’m carrying around in my purse, we can assume that things are at long last going seriously awry…)

Anyway. That was the highlight of the day — working with Peitor for a few hours.

My work on Letter #5 for Girl in the Night is frustrating me so I deleted all of it. I’m still going to keep the same premise for it (“Hymn to the Dark”) but it just kept feeling too plebeian. Sometimes plebeian is wanted. But not in this particular section of the book.  In this section, I want it to feel like, I don’t know — the genesis of angels or something. I’m sure you know exactly what I mean. I don’t even know what I fucking mean, at this point. I only know I haven’t captured it yet. So I will spend tonight trying again.

I did manage to wash my hair and shave my legs and even pay some attention to my (hideously chipped) toenails for the first time since before I went to New York — over a month ago already! (Can you believe that it was one month ago tonight that I saw Nick Cave at Town Hall? Man. In some ways it feels like a year.) (I wish I could just persuade somebody to live my life for me while I just stayed in bed and reaped the rewards of dreaming.) (Except for the times when I go see Nick Cave.) But anyway, when the weather gets colder and I wear actual shoes most of the time, instead of flip-flops everywhere, I tend to forget to look and see if my toenails need re-polishing. And I also tend to not wear my glasses most of the time, so I don’t usually see much of anything.  But today I got out of the shower and suddenly it was, like — holy moly. So I dealt with the toes.

Today is the 3rd anniversary of my sweet cat, Bunny, dying of a heart attack. She was the last of my house cats. I cannot tell you how much I miss having cats that actually interact with me. You know — the kind that let me cuddle with them and that purr and that like to sleep on the bed with me all night. Who look at me like they understand me when I chatter at them. Who act as if they actually love me. I just miss it so much. Even though Daddycakes was feral, he would purr and get on the bed with me a lot of the time, but he didn’t want to be cuddled or petted — he did allow me to do it, begrudgingly, so I tried not to overdo it. But, man. Feral cats are rough on the heartstrings.

Although, for the past several mornings, when it’s still dark out and I go into the dark bathroom to pee first thing, Huckleberry and Doris will come into the bathroom and lick my toes! This is a totally new thing. They will let me sort of reach down and pet them, but only once. If I try for twice, then they nip at me. So, you know, I’m trying to make the most out of peeing in the dark while they lick my toes… with those sandpaper-y little tongues.

This business of allowing life to be however it’s going to be without me orchestrating it to suit my needs… I’m not a big fan of it.

It sort of reminds me that I feel kind of at odds with what I posted this morning about Ghosteen. I even thought about deleting it. I wish I didn’t feel so deeply about things. I decided to keep it posted, just because I guess it’s better not to censor myself. To just “express.” I just think it’s such a beautiful album and I still don’t know how to process how it makes me feel.

And I wasn’t being mean about his wife’s dress. I mean, she does sort of describe it like that in that movie, not those 2 exact words, but they amount to the same thing — she had a sort of mission to have every woman wearing the same dress, and looking like some sort of prim cult from 40 years ago. I don’t remember exactly. But if you didn’t see One More Time With Feeling, then maybe I sounded really mean.

But that was not my intention.

Well, I guess I should either get back to work here, or do some yoga now. I’ll make up my mind momentarily. I just hope something wonderful comes out of this brain of mine tonight to salvage this frustrating day.

Oh you know, I saw something online today that the late painter Basquiat said about what the Lower East Side of NYC was like back in the late 70s & early 80s (that bombed-out, war-zone look), and there were some photos from back then included. This was when I lived down there, in Alphabet City. I just sort of take it as a given that people remember what it was like back then, but a lot of people who read my blog weren’t even born yet back then. So here is a really good photo of what it looked like on E. 12th Street back when I lived there (for 9 years). I don’t know this particular building’s exact location, but so much of the LES looked exactly like this back then. This could have easily been the “apartment” next door to me:

Somewhere below E. 14th Street, NYC, early 1980s.

It is so weird to think I simply lived like this. For so many years. I didn’t even think about it. It’s just how it was.

Honestly, a lot of the times I miss it. I don’t really enjoy what NYC has become.

All righty! I’m off to do something. I don’t know what yet. But here’s hoping that before the night ends, I will have written something worth keeping. I love you guys. See ya.

Life On Earth, As We Once Knew It

Okay, gang. Just a quick hello today.

If you’re keeping up with my memoir-in-progress about my childhood — In the Shadow of Narcissa has updated. You can read it here, or at the permanent link at the bottom of the side bar.

In the memoir, we’re in the second house in Cleveland, where my mom started to do her weird punishment stuff. But she was also still able to be this really beautiful mom most of the time. She didn’t start to get seriously awful until the third house.

The second house was actually an interesting time in my personal life, although that stuff isn’t in the memoir — or at least, not yet. Not in the online version, anyway. Maybe when I’m actually writing it as a complete book, more of my internal stuff will come into it.  I’m not really sure.

Even though, within about 10 years of the time period I’m currently writing about, my adoptive dad would do a complete about-face and become this truly nasty individual who only cared about money, in these early years, he was incredibly kind to me. Just so nice. And he was the sole thing keeping our little house sane. In those years, my adoptive mom really tried very hard to please him. And I think that’s what kept her struggling so hard to keep her mind on an even keel back then.

All righty. So.

It got pretty chilly around here — true October weather now. I’ve turned on the furnace and put the flannel sheets on the bed. Next, I’m gonna have to break down and trim back my hydrangea. Even though it’s been officially dead for a number of weeks, I haven’t had the heart to officially tell it goodbye. It looked so amazingly pretty this summer. And probably by the weekend, I’ll have to bring the potted plants indoors, too — which is never fun, because then I have to do constant battle with the cats to keep them from eating the plants. Especially the palm tree, which I raised from a wee bonny twig (it’s now about 4 feet tall).

As soon as that tree comes indoors, I think the cats literally wait for me to be asleep, and then they go after that poor palm tree, which always looks so glorious when it comes inside from having been on the porch all summer. And then, in the space of one single night, the cats do their best to get at as many of the palm fronds as possible, chew them, and then throw them back up all over the carpeting.

It’s the one time of year when I really just scream my head off at those darn cats. The things they put that poor tree through every fall, even when I try to barricade the tree beyond belief. They still manage to get at it and usually turn the whole tree over in the process. Soil everywhere. The tree flopped on its side, most of its leaves, gone.

It is so darn frustrating. The joys of living with feral cats.

All right, I gotta scoot here. Sorry this is so brief. I’m gonna tackle the rewrites on the play now. Hope your Wednesday’s been good! Thanks for visiting, gang. I love you guys. See ya.

Just This & That As I Get Back to Work Here!

The chest cold lingers but I slept really great, all things considered. I only did that “lurch awake and suddenly hack my brains out” once during the night! Otherwise, I slept like a wee bonny babe.

I try not to take OTC cold remedies because I use Flonase due to allergies– that’s a steroid and has some indescribably horrific bad reactions when combined with most OTC cold remedies. I found that out the hard way — twice, because I didn’t know what had caused it the first time.

If you’ve never accidentally combined Flonase with OTC cold remedies, it feels like you’re heart is going to explode and like your lungs are collapsing and your whole chest starts heaving, as you try to get air. And that only goes on for about several hours.

So now, I do the apple cider vinegar stuff, the ginger-honey tea thing, the endless glasses of water, and good old-fashioned, delightfully-scented Vick’s VapoRub!! (It works, too, because, of course, Flonase is doing all the somewhat dicey chemical stuff…) (And by “dicey,” I mean that Flonase has a potential side effect of glaucoma.)

Anyway. So I’m better and I slept great. And I felt suitably armored to call my (adoptive) dad on the phone and tell him how my trip to NYC went.

If you’re not a regular reader of this lofty blog, my adoptive dad and I have a tumultuous relationship. That is putting it super mildly. I am always either in or out of the Will — depending on things like my politics any given year, and whether or not I use the ‘F’-word constantly. And a whole lot of other, way more serious stuff that I don’t want to go into here because it will just depress me beyond your abilities to comprehend.

Anyway. I try to be nice. And sometimes, he does, too. But I can never just pick up a phone and call him without suiting up in every conceivable type of armor there is — emotional, spiritual, psychological. Protective Voodoo chants and empowering aroma therapies. (I would put on the actual armor of the knights of yore, but it would make it ridiculously hard to use my iPhone, plus I don’t own any.)

But, seriously. I really have to do that kind of protective mental stuff before even picking up the phone. And when I told him how great the meeting went with the director, and what the plans were for the next 9 months, and how the meeting was just a great success, he said, “Can you imagine how devastating it would have been if everything had gone wrong?”

ME: “God. Dad, why would I want to think about something like that?!!”

I always have to erect this huge mental blockade against everything he says. He is so negative and sort of mean. (When I was almost 15, and really just at the nadir of my existence; Greg was dead, the boys at school  would not stop assaulting me, I was taking 15 sleeping pills a day, etc., my dad was dropping me off after his monthly “taking me to dinner” and I was afraid to go back into the house and be alone with my mother, who was on this weird ‘punishment’ rampage, where I had to stay locked up in my room, 24/7, and I could only come out to eat my meals — and only when everyone else was done and had left the table; I couldn’t play records or watch TV or listen to the radio or talk on the phone or see anyone at all. Not even my brother. She allowed me to have my guitar in my room, but that was it. For a couple of weeks this went on, and my room was a hot little airless box that got up to about 100 degrees because it was the height of summer.  Anyway. I was afraid to go back in there. And cut to the chase: my dad said, “You’re on your own here. There’s nothing I can do for you anymore. If you’re going to kill yourself, just kill yourself.” So, you know, I went in there, went up to my room and tried to do as he advised, then wound up in the sunny wilds of the mental hospital…)

Yeah, so. Me and my adoptive dad… a unending perilous journey in the making. Until one of us dies.

But I got through that phone call by just not giving an inch of ground. And he attempted to point out every negative possibility for my life that he could imagine, and I kept my arsenal of handy vocabulary words as close by me as I could. And then the call was over and I could sigh and say: Okay. I called my dad. What’s next on the list of death-defying feats today?

You can see why you might not want to make that kind of phone call, though, if you’re not feeling well…

But I am feeling better!

And my cats are so frisky! Darting all over. Playing. They really love this chilly fall weather, and I think they’re actually happy that I’m home. Even Francis seems happy to see me, in her tiny mean way! She hunkers down and stares at me, growls a little, thumps her angry tail — but the fact that she does this and doesn’t run away and hide, means that she’s willing to allow me to occupy the same space as her for the time being!! A small act of love. Which I cherish.

My cats. Thank God for my birth mom, right? I’m going to have to travel so much next year. It gives me so much peace of mind knowing that she got along so well with my crazy cats.

Okay, today I am going to try to map out some of those rewrites to the play — which are actually pretty substantial. Not what has to be taken out, but what needs to be added to what’s already there. Without weighing the play down or making it go on for too long. And one of the ways to handle that is to  weave additional character development throughout the entire play. So that it doesn’t just come at you in one big chunk, you know?  Sort of like re-weaving a tapestry or something, right? Introduce the storylines sooner, without changing what’s already written there. “Expanding” what’s there, I guess is the word for it.

Then I’ll do some more notes on this new “Litany” development for Girl in the Night: Erotic Love Letters to the Muse. That really came out of left field, gang, but it feels really exciting. I am really curious to see how that’s going to ultimately land on the page.

The Conversations with Nick Cave move into Canadian territory today — Montreal, then Toronto. Golly, I really wish I could be there! It’s so hard for me to believe that I won’t be able to see one of those things again, because it was so cool. But I’m guessing next in line is a tour for Ghosteen.

And next week, there is the listening event on Youtube for the record, but I cannot figure out what time zone that thing is in! Honestly. It’s some time zone I’ve never heard of before.  I’m guessing that google will attempt to help me figure that out. And I do have it set to stream on Spotify when it drops, however, me and Spotify are just not real cozy. I’ve been on there since the company launched and I still cannot really figure out how to use it. I always have to flag down some random  27 year-old guy and shriek, “Can you help me figure this fucking thing out??!!”

RANDOM 27 Year-Old Guy: “Just click this and then that.”

ME: “But I tried that and it keeps taking me back to Tropical Fuck Storm!!”

Honestly. Old as it makes me sound, I really miss the days when I just went into Woolworth’s and bought the record and took it home.

Okay! Gonna get started here. I hope you have a great Friday, wherever you are in the world and whatever it finds you doing!! The 2nd anniversary of Tom Petty’s death is rapidly approaching, but I am doing really okay about that. I really am. I was listening to An American Treasure at breakfast this morning (I was listening to it while driving across Pennsylvania — that and Let Love In and Abattoir Blues/Lyre of Orpheus for 500 miles…) and when I played the song below — a really, really great rockabilly song that they never released until after he died — instead of thinking how sad it is that Tom Petty is gone, I thought about how fun it was to listen to him in the wilds of sunny Pennsylvania, trees turning to autumn everywhere I looked.

It felt bittersweet but, overall, I was happy.

So. Thanks for visiting. I love you guys. See ya!

 

“Lonesome Dave”

Well, whatever happened to Lonesome Dave?
Used to play in a rock ‘n’ roll band
He’d be up and on the stage
All the kids would raise their hands
But oh, then disco came
Nothing lasts for long
Oh, it’s such a shame
Lonesome Dave is goneWell, he’d be up there rockin’ out
Three-hundred-sixty-five days a year
Lightnin’ Boogie and Amy’s Blues
Play it so loud that it hurt my ears
And oh, somethin’ went wrong
Yeah, the times have changed
Now it’s a different song
Lonesome Dave is gone

All right, Dave!
Yeah!

Well, three P.M. at the Holiday Inn
The room service coming on a tray
Tuna melt and an orange juice
It was heaven there for Lonesome Dave
But, oh, that disco came
Oh, the times have changed
Now it’s a different song
Lonesome Dave is gone

Well, I wish I was Lonesome Dave
I’d lay up with the girls all night
I’d run round in the parking lot
I’d drink some beer and get into fights
But oh, it’s only me
Now it’s a different song
What will be, will be
Lonesome Dave is gone

All right, Dave
Hang on, Dave, yeah!

Well, whatever happened to Lonesome Dave?
He used to play in a guitar band
Three-hundred-sixty-five days a year
God, I know, we all love him, man
Yeah, and he’d go wild
Yeah, the crowd would yell
Time is moving on
Lonesome Dave is gone

Bye bye, Dave!
Yeah
Bye bye, Dave!

c – 1993 Tom Petty

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

I Just Don’t Know What to do With Myself — Besides Laundry!!

YES!! You heard it here first!! I am currently not under a deadline!!

First time since last September that I have not had a writing deadline of some sort looming over me!

I still have stuff I’m writing — pulling them slowly to the front burner for now. And I will eventually have drastic rewrites for the other play Sandra and I are doing, but for right this very minute? I actually don’t even know what to do with myself!

I do know that my mom (birth mom) is coming to stay at the house next week to look after my cats while I’m in NYC. And this house is a complete tsunami of cat hair and dust. So I gotta deal with that. And wash all the bed sheets and towels and all those things that sit in a linen closet and start to take on the inner characteristics of said (118-year-old) closet. So I’m starting with that — the laundry.

Last November, when my mom was here visiting, I forced her to eat leftover Halloween candy because I had a ton of it. Loyal readers perhaps recall that I had a crucial electrical fire-hazard emergency problem here last Halloween, and so the entire house was in darkness as the electricians repaired the wiring and when the kids were out trick-or-treating they assumed  that no one in the dark house was home. It left me with a ton of candy. And I don’t actually eat candy. So I told my mother that any candy she didn’t eat last time would only be waiting for her the next time she came to visit. And guess what??!! My threat was good!

Yeah, she’s gonna have a ton of one-year-old candy; it’s all still sitting here in air-tight apothecary jars…

I will get around to actual housecleaning really, really soon. First, I’m gonna work on that Letter #3 for Girl in the Night: Erotic Love Letters to the Muse (aka “Baltimore”)! It’s been pushing itself out of me for a few days already. (Isn’t that a visual?) And now that I can give it my complete attention, I want to get back at it.

I am so happy with the play! Although I’m at that point where I’ve been so deep into it that now I need to set it down and walk away in order to have a fresh perspective on it. I’m sure it will need more (hopefully minor) revisions as the rehearsals ensue, but at least the major stuff is finally done.

However, on my actual desk, in various stages of completion, I still have:

  • In the Shadow of Narcissa (memoir)
  • Girl in the Night: Erotic Love Letters to the Muse (letters/memoir)
  • Whatever rewrites await on The Guide to Being Fabulous (theater)
  • In the Days of the Flesh: The Gospel According to Caiaphas (theater)
  • Down to the Meadows of Sleep: The Hurley Falls Mystery (murder mystery)
  • Dirty Girl, Beautiful Mind (memoir)

And then the TV projects:

  • Cleveland’s Burning (perpetually in development)
  • The Tea Cozy Murder Club: A Murder at Parsons Ridge (murder mystery/TV pilot)
  • Freak Parade (limited streaming adaptation)

So, I think I’ll just kind of enjoy this day!!

It’s sunny and hot here again. Probably summer’s last hurrah. I am really savoring it.  Who knows what next summer will bring? Since last summer, I lost 2 cats — one, Daddycakes, was actually part of my household; the other was a stray ginger tom who came to visit and get breakfast every morning. I named him Henry. He died during the winter. I hope I don’t have to contend with that again, anytime soon.

Loyal readers of this lofty blog perhaps recall Buster, Bunny, and Fluffy. They each died in September, various years:

Buster 2002-2013
Bunny (2002-2016) as painted by Valerie in Brooklyn
Fluffy (2006-2016)

And let’s not forget Brad!!! The enormous spider who lived next to my bed in the old house who used to just freak me the fuck out, so I had to name him Brad in order to not feel so freaked out by his constant presence in my most intimate space…

Brad (2014 – 2014)

Okay, gang!! I’m gonna scoot.

Have a terrific Wednesday, wherever you are in the world!! Thanks for visiting. I leave you with “Ode to Brad”!! (aka “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” by Dusty Springfield.) I love you guys, See ya!

“You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” (“Ode to Brad”)

When I said I needed you
You said you would always stay
It wasn’t me who changed but you
And now you’ve gone away

Don’t you see that now you’re gone
And I’m left here on my own
That I have to follow you
And beg you to come home

You don’t have to say you love me
Just be close at hand
You don’t have to stay forever
I will understand
Believe me believe me
I can’t help but love you
But believe I will never tie you down

Left alone with your memory
Life seems dead and so do we
All that’s left is loneliness
There’s nothing left to feel

You don’t have to say you love me
Just be close at hand
You don’t have to stay forever
I will understand
Believe me believe me
I can’t help but love you
But believe I will never tie you down

You don’t have to say you love me
Just be close at hand
You don’t have to stay forever
I will understand
Believe me believe me
I can’t help but love you
But believe I will never tie you down

c – 1966 SIMON NAPIER-BELL, GIUSEPPE (PINO) DONAGGIO, VITO PALLAVACINI, VICKI WICKHAM

The Thrill of All This Fucked-Up-Ness!!

I don’t know, but when I need to feel sort of “at peace” with where I am in life, vintage illustrations really do it for me. They calm me down. I like to ponder them.

They instantly propel me into thoughts of: Wow, remember when life in America was like this? So much simpler…everyone was happy

I know. Life was never like this. I mean, look at the size of that trailer, for one thing. The only way that many Americans, from 3 generations no less, would be happy living in a trailer that size would be if all of them were on prescription medication, 24/7.

But it’s fun to dream, right?

I mean, I’m really happy with my house — I love my house. It’s the first real home, emotionally, that I’ve ever had. And I love this town. I love being in the middle of peaceful nowhere.

However, if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you can readily see that a really long line of fucked-up-ness is trailing after me. And through relentless trial & error (i.e., living my life), it became apparent that things go better for me when I’m left alone.

And, of course, being left alone is often really lonely. But at the same time, when I’m hanging out alone not attempting suicide, I get a lot more done.

But, man. What a lot of fucked-up adults in that apartment complex, right? And nobody leaving me alone for a minute. The only people leaving me alone were my parents. They had no clue what was happening to me in that apartment complex. My mom would put in appearances in order to be really abusive and frightening, but otherwise, she was off in the world, finding herself. Like every other divorced woman of that era, it seems. And by then, my dad didn’t  live in the same town as us anymore.

But I don’t think he would have given a shit anyway. Nothing really registered with him when it came to me. His whole life was consumed with hating my mother. That’s all he could see back then.

He would come to town once a month to take me out, and in order to piss off my mother, he would take me to these really violent, inappropriate movies for a young girl to see. Things like Walking Tall and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. It wasn’t just that these movies were extremely violent, they had violence against women in them that was horrifying to me. I was traumatized by those movies because I absolutely did not know how to process that type of violence against women. It was all new to me and just terrifying. I would come home from those movies, and just hide in my room for hours.

But all my dad cared about was how pissed off my mom would be when she’d find out which movie he’d taken me to this time. And when the sexual assaults started to actually happen to me (in that same horrible apartment complex) my dad was the last person it would have occurred to me to go to for help. I didn’t go to anybody, actually.  I couldn’t figure out who on Earth would care.

After Greg died and the actual rapes began happening — I was just a dead girl walking, really.

Yesterday, after I posted about the sleeping pill problem and the mental hospital, I remembered how, once I was finally released several months later, I went back to my room at home and everything in there was exactly as I had left it when they’d scurried me away. Nothing had been touched. Flushing all those pills down the toilet was completely unnecessary (although it was a good thing that I’d done it, because I didn’t have them waiting for me when I got out).

But yesterday, that just seemed so sad to me. If it had been my kid — or anyone at all that I loved or cared about — I would have gone through every single thing in that room; trying to figure out who that person really was, what had gone so wrong that she would try to kill herself.

I had journals in there, too. Things were written down. Nobody bothered to look. For my mother, it was like: close the door; she’s someone else’s problem now.

The thing that would just enrage me, even at that young age, was that I had been taken away from my “real” mother only to be put into all of that. Even though, at that time, I didn’t know my mother had only been 13 when I was born, what I was told was that she “loved me but wasn’t able to take care of me” so she had to give me up.

I guarantee you, all I heard in that explanation was that my real mother loved me…

(And many years later, when I finally found her, it was the very first thing that I discovered that was absolutely true: She loved me more than life itself, really.)

Well.

Yesterday also yielded some really cool new pages in the play. It took several hours for them to finally come out of me. It was one of those days where I would sit at the desk, agonize, clutch my hair a bit. Get up, walk around the room. Sit back down at the desk.

I fumbled with that unlit Pall Mall I always have at my desk now. And I kept looking at it, wondering: if I lit it and smoked it, would the words finally come? (I didn’t light it. I never do.)

And then, all of the sudden, around 3pm, it all began tumbling out. Some of it, I’d had no clue I was getting ready to write! Some of it was disturbing, yet I still knew it was good. And I wondered, where the heck did that come from?

The process of writing can just be so strange. You wait for it and wait for it, and when it comes out, you look at it and go: wow, who the heck are you?

The main segment I wrote yesterday (something I knew I was going to write, it just took me forever to find my way into it) involves Helen going back 10 years or so in her mind and spending time with her adult grandson before he dies, and then she goes back another 25 years and goes fishing with that same grandson as a little boy but her adult grandson, now dead, comes back as a ghost and is fishing with them and they’re all having a great time fishing at the river even though Helen and the young grandson can’t see the ghost, and then the entire cast of characters — because we’re still in Helen’s dream, where she’s alive inside one of her own paintings and all the people she loves who have died are alive again in the painting  — all those characters sing a really jubilant & rambunctious version of the old slave spiritual, “Down By the Riverside.”

Are you following that? Do you see why maybe a lit cigarette could help?

But I got through it!! And I was really happy with the results. (And the director texted this morning that he “loved, loved, loved it.”)

So! Onward, right, gang??

All right.

Another bright spot I want to mention before I close this today. For 2 mornings in a row, 2 of my rescued feral cats — Huckleberry and Doris — have let me (very briefly) pet them!

This is the first time I’ve been able to touch them since Daddycakes died. It made me really happy.

Okay. I’ll leave you with this. For some reason, I just love listening to all these little kids singing the old slave songs. I like it much better than the adult choirs, because the adults just get complicated and fussy. All right. I love you guys. Thanks for visiting. See ya!

Cats Are So Good At Acting Like They Can’t Understand You!

Yes, once again, I have subtly left the vacuum cleaner in the middle of the family room, hoping that the cats would take the hint and vacuum the darn house, but they just walk right past it. Not only as if they don’t see it, but as if they don’t even comprehend what it’s for.

It just gets me so mad. One of these days, I’m just going to fucking break down and do it myself!

Anyway…

Yes, the dust and the cat hair (and the Marilyn hair) gathers all over the house (it makes me insane because I am a little bit of a cleaning freak, truth be told), but I got some amazing writing done on the play yesterday, gang. And you can only do so much, you know?

ME (drumming my fingers on my desk, thinking): Hmmm. Decisions, decisions. Do I want a Pulitzer Prize or a clean house?

I really was just so happy yesterday.  I somehow managed to capture one of those complicated dream-painting scenes from the Tell My Bones screenplay and translate it for the stage.  (Meaning that one of Helen’s most popular paintings comes to life while she’s dreaming and she then uses the setting of her painting to interact with all the people in her life who have died.) It’s very easy to do on film, but I wasn’t sure how best to achieve it for the stage without having some sort of huge budget, a la “Sunday in the Park with George.”  Especially since there are just so many of Helen’s paintings setting the scenes in this play. You don’t want to just focus hugely on one thing and then not bring the rest of the play up to that scope. (i.e., a Broadway Musical budget.)

Plus, I was able to use the setting of the painting coming to life to sort of jettison a bunch of narrative monologue type stuff and really cut to the chase and then move forward to the next segment. (And underlying the whole “painting coming to life” scene, is the cast singing, in a really ghost-like, ethereal way, the old  slave spiritual, “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel?” )

We’ll see what the director thinks. I’m guessing it still needs tweaking but overall, I am just so happy. I’m going to work on it some more today because our meeting has been switched to next Tuesday.

I’m not sure what’s up in Melbourne. So far no reviews in the online newspapers in Australia re: the Nick Cave & Warren Ellis events going on with the symphony there. But I did see that more Bad Seeds are supposed to be involved (?) on Saturday night (which for all I know is right now, since I have no clue what day or time it is in Australia!!) so perhaps that is what everyone is waiting for? I actually do not know. Anyway.  No reviews yet. And I had to un-follow  #nickcave on Instagram because way, way, WAY too much insane stuff gets into my Instagram feed with that hashtag. Most of it is actually quite interesting, and mostly from Europe, but I don’t have time to scroll through all that insanity because it only makes me want to stop and ponder!!!

Eventually, we will find out everything about everything. I feel confident about that.

Okay. I gotta scoot, gang. I once again slept in a little bit today because my bed was just so darn comfortable — it got back down into the 60s Fahrenheit during the night. And my bed, and all the open windows — it was just too beautiful. Eros was everywhere! But now I gotta get going here.

Thanks for visiting. I leave you with this — a young girl choir in Mississippi, singing “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel?” For some reason, this is my favorite version on YouTube. It is so uncomplicated but full of enthusiasm. Okay, I love you guys! Have a terrific Friday!! See ya!

Just the Kind of Cat I Like!!

Yes, I like my kitties intense, gang. Cigarette-smoking, beer-drinking cats, with those ice blue eyes that have all sorts of unsettling stuff written all over them.  [If you’re reading this on my web page and not on your phone, the word cut off at the bottom, up there,  is ‘intense.’ — Ed.]

I forgot to mention that, yesterday, I bought my cats some organic catnip. Now that Daddycakes is no longer with us (sadly), I realized that I can have catnip in the house again. Back when I had 2 male cats, the cat fights were off the charts when the catnip came out, so I had to stop buying it. But last night, boy, were there some stoned kitties around here.

The cats have tons of toys, but only a couple of them are the kind that you can stick catnip in. Here is their favorite:

Favorite catnip toy! A soaking, slobbery mess right now…

Okay.

Well. This morning had all the earmarks of a perfect morning. I’m hoping the whole day will follow suit.  I haven’t actually looked into my astrology forecast or anything, but it just feels like something huge is either shifting or has shifted in my inner world.

I don’t just feel “happy;” I feel like I’m beginning to understand my life in cosmic proportions.

I don’t think it stems from drinking about 2 ounces of kombucha yesterday (see last night’s post). Seriously, though, I do think that my buying all that stuff yesterday was part of some sort of underlying shift that’s going on.

I also started a new yoga routine a couple of nights ago. (No, not kundalini or tantric.  Honestly, if I included sex in every area of my life where I wished to include it, I would get absolutely nothing done.) (Plus, you know, making some sort of meditative practice to open my sexual energy — Jesus Christ. That would be sort of scary. It’s not like I’ve ever made a habit of blocking it.)

But I did change my yoga routine and it was noticeably effective. And by “effective,” I’m not sure what I really mean; just that my mind was different after I did that.

And now wanting all this new food (mostly beverages, apparently) in my life… I don’t know.

When I woke up this morning, I thought fleetingly about that older guy again, from when I was 14, but my thoughts immediately progressed to realizing that 45 summers ago was also when Greg died (on August 27th). I mean, I knew that, but I hadn’t yet affixed that number to it.

And, as an aside, it could very well be that I forgot about that older guy until now, because Greg’s death obliterated everything else in my world.  I know the older guy was around for the whole summer, even though I didn’t want to have sex with him anymore, but I think that once his brother was out of prison, they all got construction jobs somewhere else and moved away.

But I was thinking this morning about Greg. Not really able to process what being dead for 45 years means when he was only 15 when he died. I’ve been to his grave a few times since moving back to Ohio.  It’s about an hour’s drive from where I am now. I’m not sure if I’ll go visit this month or not. The last time I went, I saw that his dad had died now, too. There was a space between him and his dad and this morning, I was wondering if his mom is going to be buried between her husband and her son. And then I wondered, at what point would I visit his grave and then find his mom there, also?

It is just so weird how life just goes on. I don’t even try to process it because I just can’t.  I examine everything, you know; I ponder. I can’t ever seem to stop doing that, but it’s more to look at how certain people or situations made me behave. How they made me feel, which made me behave a certain way.

And then, you live long enough, and you realize that nothing really mattered that much, or as much as you thought it did, because Time passed and everything changed, and then changed again, and then changed again. So I think the story that gets told is who we are from moment to moment. No one experience, no matter how life-changing or life-shattering at the time, is ever the definitive moment; it never truly defines who you are, even though it feels like it does. Eventually, if you live long enough, a deluge of Time passes and all sorts of defining experiences come and go.

I’ve also noticed that when people lose either their spouses or their long-time companions, it can wildly change who they become in life. I’ve seen that happen to quite a few of the men in my family, in very different ways. But the unifying thing underlying it was that the “other” died and it was clear that the man had sort of put his life on hold throughout the whole relationship, and that the death of the partner led to almost overwhelming freedom.

It can be hard for a family to see that, you know? I, being who I always am — a huge believer in emotional freedom — have always supported the men’s choices and usually got everyone else in the family pissed off at me.

My biological grandmother (my birth mom’s mom) was always at odds with me. I knew her for about 30 years before she died, and through most of that time, she wasn’t speaking to me for one reason or another.

The worst event was when my aunt died (her sister).

My uncle  — that aunt’s husband –had always been so incredibly kind to me. Just off-the-charts kind.  In the early days of knowing my birth mom, it was very hard for me to deal with the fact that she refused to tell me (or anyone, ever) who my dad was. I really, really, really wanted to know.

My uncle took me aside late one summer night, and said, “I wish I could help you. I honestly don’t know who your dad is. If I knew, I’d tell you in a heartbeat, no matter who got upset with me.”

And then after my aunt died, my uncle called me on the phone to tell me a little story.

It turned out, he’d had an illegitimate daughter of his own before he’d married my aunt. He knew he was the girl’s father, and he tried to have a relationship with the girl, but my aunt refused to allow it. So he lived there in the same town with the girl as she grew up.

The girl knew “that’s my father,” and he knew “that’s my daughter,” but they weren’t allowed to even speak to each other or my aunt would have a fit. And when she’d married my uncle, she was a widow with 2 young kids — her husband was a race car driver who got killed in a drag race crash. And my uncle raised my aunt’s 2 kids, and she deprived him of ever being able to know his own daughter.

When my aunt died, the girl — then in her early 40s — read about it in the newspaper and straight away, she finally went to visit her dad, you know? All above board and out in the open. “Ding-dong, the witch is dead,” right?

Wow, was the family up in arms that she did that. And it was even worse to them that my uncle welcomed his daughter with more than open arms:  He bought a brand new Cadillac, let his diabetes go, and had a love affair, right out in the open, with his daughter.

Back then, cars didn’t always have that arm rest in the middle of the front seat, and when they’d drive around town in that new Cadillac, my uncle and his grown daughter would sit right up close together while he drove, like they were lovers, and it pissed the whole town off.

And I was the only one who was okay with that. I just thought that was the fucking coolest thing. My aunt deprived those two of everything that could have been normal between them for their whole lives. And so it was all coming out in the wash. (At the time, I was still a singer-songwriter in NYC and I wrote a song about it: “In this car of my old man’s/we run as fast as the racing wind…”)

My grandmother, of course, stopped speaking to me because I was “on my uncle’s side.” But my uncle would call me on the phone to talk to me about how he’d felt about everything — for all those years. How much he loved his daughter. How it killed him to never be able to even wish her a Merry Christmas or a Happy Birthday, or to even be allowed to acknowledge her when he saw her in the supermarket, where she worked when she was in her teens.

Eventually my uncle landed in the hospital because he let his diabetes go, and then he died soon after. But one time when he called me from his hospital bed, he said: “My daughter has something very important she wants to tell you.” So he put her on the phone with me.

At that point, I was still in my 20s, so she was a lot older than I was. And I knew that she and my uncle weren’t just having a love affair — I knew they were incestuous, too. They were doing it. And it did not bother me one bit. To me, they were adults, making their own choices. And so she gets on the phone with me, while she’s literally lying on the hospital bed next to my uncle — her dad — and what does she tell me? She told me who my father was.

She was a little older than my mom, but they’d gone to the same school when my mom got pregnant with me, and for all those years, she knew who “the father of Cherie’s baby” was. And that night, when she told me who he was, was the first time she learned that I was that baby.

If you remember a night about 30 years ago, when it felt like the planets stopped revolving in their orbits for a moment and the stars sort of exploded — that would have been the night she told me that over the phone: Who my father was. At last. He had a name. He existed. The name I had waited a lifetime to hear – I now knew it.

That alone, helped my uncle die happy, because he really, really did want me to know who my dad was. He thought that it wasn’t fair of my mother to have never told the guy that he was a dad, that he had a daughter in the world.

So anyway. Death creates peculiar and unexpected stories, even though the heartbreak that comes along with it is real. I’ll decide in a few weeks if I want to go back to visit Greg’s grave.  Part of it is that I just feel he is so long gone from that grave, you know? 45 years, people. And he was only 15 when they put him in there, and in life, he was always up and out and looking for trouble. I’m guessing that death didn’t change him much.

Okay. This morning, appropriately enough, the music was all about Joni Mitchell singing “Both Sides Now.” However, I actually like Neil Diamond’s version better. So I’m gonna leave you once again with a song from Rainbow.

Thanks for visiting, gang. I gotta get back to the rewrites on the play. (Oh, and Nick Cave sent out a new Red Hand Files newsletter so I gotta go read that!!!) I love you guys. See ya.

BOTH SIDES NOW”

Bows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way

But now it’s just another show
You leave ’em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know
Don’t give yourself away

I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say “I love you” right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

c- 1967 Joni Mitchell