Tag Archives: In the Shadow of Narcissa

Yeah, Baby! You Know What Those Little Happy Cats Mean!

It means it’s laundry day around here!

Am I the only person who loves doing laundry??

I actually love doing laundry. I think because I spent a couple of decades in New York City either having to lug all my dirty clothes to the laundromat, or to the laundry room of the basement of the apartment building.

And now I have my own GE energy efficient washer and dryer, just off of my kitchen! I can do laundry anytime I fucking want to!! And I don’t have to save quarters all week long. (Or all month long, depending on how long it took me to get myself to the laundromat.) (I was definitely one of those people who kept going to Woolworth’s to buy more underwear all the time because I couldn’t manage to get my laundry done in a timely manner…)

But no more! I’m not exactly Susie Homemaker, or anything (although I’m not Susie Homewrecker, either!), but I always have clean laundry.

Okay!!

My second installment of In the Shadow of Narcissa was posted at EdgeOfHumanity.com last evening. You can view it here, in Personal Stories.

Thanks for being supportive of that, gang. It means a lot to me. I will be working on my third installment for that memoir later this week.

Meanwhile, of course, I must get back to rewrites of the play. I spoke briefly with Gus Van Sant Sr again last night. (In case you don’t know or don’t remember, he used to be Helen LaFrance’s business manager — she is the painter that my play, Tell My Bones, is about.) He had sent me over a document that’s going over to the lawyer, about his past history with Helen and her art, and her family, etc. It was fascinating to read.

He is a wonderful man. Really, just the most considerate human being, ever. He once gave me a job when I really, really needed one and he didn’t know me from anyone else on Earth.

I only casually knew the woman who cut his hair at his country club. (He used to be a fanatical golfer.) The reason I was back in Ohio is a long, painful story (if you know anything at all about narcissists and “the discard” you can piece together what ultimately happened with me and my aging, adoptive mother). But that aside, I’d had no idea that the business office of Gus Van Sant’s movie production company was 7 minutes from my house.

At the time, I had been back in Ohio for less than 6 months, I had a new home and a 5-figure mortgage, and then the economy tanked, and the publishing industry practically imploded. 4 of my primary publishers went out of business on the very same day, and even the publishers who published me occasionally either folded, or began paying horrible money as they tried to just survive.

At the same time, I was living with a man I trusted, who moved with me from NYC, but I had no clue he had a horrific gambling problem from long ago that was in remission. The city in Ohio that we moved to had a brand new casino. In record time, behind my back, he gambled away my entire savings. All of it — gone. And I had a new mortgage and no publishers left.

It was really just the best year.

But this hairdresser who hardly knew me but knew I was a writer who had moved  to Ohio from NYC, told Gus I needed a job. Sight unseen, he hired me because he needed a new assistant. He truly kept me from going under. And even though he couldn’t solve all my problems for me, he was really just a solid emotional anchor for me when I really, really needed that.

And then the whole Helen LaFrance project was born from that work relationship, so meeting him really was probably the best day of my life.

And the worst year, in hindsight, was likely my best year.

However, on that note, I really gotta get going here! The director wants to meet “in a few days” to go over my re-writes so far, so having some would be ideal, don’t’cha think??

Okay. Thanks for visiting! Have a terrific Tuesday, wherever you are in the world! I leave you with my breakfast-listening music from this morning. I think there’s a Country band who has a remake of this song out there somewhere now, but I love this version from the 1980s. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, singing Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Going Nowhere.” I love you guys! See ya!

“You Ain’t Going Nowhere”

Clouds so swift, the rain won’t lift
Gates won’t close, the railing’s froze.
So get your mind off wintertime,
You ain’t going nowhere.

Ooooo ride me high
Tomorrow’s the day my bride’s gonna come
Oooo are we gonna fly
Down in the easy chair

Buy me a flute, and a gun that shoots
Tail gates and substitutes
Strap yourself to a tree with roots,
You ain’t going nowhere

Ooooo ride me high
Tomorrow’s the day my bride’s gonna come
Oooo are we gonna fly
Down in the easy chair

Well I don’t care how many letters they sent
The morning came and the morning went

So pack up your money, and pick up your tent
You ain’t going nowhere

Ooooo ride me high
Tomorrow’s the day my bride’s gonna come
Oooo are we gonna fly
Down in the easy chair

And Genghis Khan he could not keep
All his men supplied with sleep.
We’ll climb that hill no matter how steep
When we get up to it

Ooooo ride me high
Tomorrow’s the day my bride’s gonna come
Oooo are we gonna fly
Down in the easy chair

Ooooo ride me high
Tomorrow’s the day my bride’s gonna come
Oooo are we gonna fly
Down in the easy chair

c- 1967 Bob Dylan

I Smell A Pulitzer!! You Bet’cha!!

Another gorgeous day here in Crazeysburg! You would not believe it had been so unbearable only a couple of days ago.

And because it’s so beautiful, I think I’ll spend the next  8 hours, yes, sitting at my desk!

Even while I am actually excited about making the drastic revisions to Tell My Bones — because I believe in the director and I believe that whatever he feels so strongly about is the path to follow here — I do sort of lament that I spent my entire birthday (Monday) at my desk, working on the (old & now useless) revisions of the play.

I was at my desk for over 12 hours on my birthday.  And it really was a struggle, because I wasn’t sure the revisions were working, either.  I wish the director had read the screenplay earlier (I sent him the screenplay at his request 6 weeks ago) and had discovered earlier that we needed to stop and go back down the previous path.

But it’s futile to wish that too hard, right? For whatever reason, we’re on the path right now. So I try to let go of it and focus on what’s in front of me. And next year, maybe I will spend my birthday doing something wonderful.

Yesterday, I added a new segment to In the Shadow of Narcissa. It’s a work in progress, for sure. It’s not what I would call an actual struggle to write it, but it’s a challenge to find balance there, and to tell the story through the eyes of my actual childhood and not tell the story as my grown self, who knows all the awful stuff that came later.

I’m not exactly sure what years the memoir will encompass. I want it to remain in the realm of my childhood in Cleveland. My happiest childhood memories are of Cleveland, but that’s because my paternal (adoptive) grandmother lived there and she was the very best part of my life.

But I do also  have some happy memories about my adoptive mother from the years in Cleveland, even though I was already terrified of her by age 2, when she first lost control and mercilessly abused me. She tried really hard to regain her footing with me after that — and sadly, I believe it was to the detriment of my older brother.  This is my own opinion about what happened. But I think that she was so afraid of herself, and of losing her control again with me and then having my dad find out that it had happened again, that she wound up redirecting all her rage toward my entirely defenseless brother.

As if her rage only counted if it was aimed at me, and that my brother didn’t matter. It was horrible, the stuff she did to my brother and I don’t even really know what happened, because she was always dragging him off to his room and I was always told to sit in a chair and shut up and not move.

Once, she tied his hands together and dragged him off to his room, and a lot of screaming, from him, ensued. He was 5 years old. It had started because he wouldn’t stop biting his nails. I was overwhelmed with anxiety, having to sit there and shut up and hearing him scream and not be able to help him.

I do remember one time being unable to control myself and pleading with her to leave my brother alone. “Mommy, stop!” you know, just inconsolable screaming, wanting to help him. And she actually told me to calm down because he was a boy and boys had to learn how to handle it. (As a footnote,  my older brother stopped any contact with our adoptive mother back in 1982 and I haven’t seen my older brother since 1995.)

She said this. I remember it so clearly. I had a hard time processing that, for sure.  Even at age 4, I could not believe that anyone who was suffering for any reason whatsoever, was meant to learn how to handle it.

Anyway, I’m trying to find balance as I tell In the Shadow of Narcissa. Because I do remember her trying very hard to be kind to me when I was very little, while she was in her early 30s. As the years went on, she became pretty much uncontrollable, 24/7. But I don’t think this memoir is going to be about that. This memoir is going to be about her seeming battle early on to be kind and yet to be filled with rage — a truly unhappy young 1960s American housewife who was also a narcissist.  And how disruptive it was to me psychologically, and how, because I knew I’d been adopted, I began very early on, wishing that my “real” mother would come back and get me.

And then that very real fear of realizing that my “real” mother did not know where I was and that I was on my own.

Regarding the play, though. I decided to take last evening off. It was such a lovely night. I played my guitar up in my room for awhile and I even got out this Tom Petty songbook that someone gave me as a gift, recently.

I have never played a single Tom Petty song on my guitar in all these decades. I am strictly an acoustic rhythm player and so electric guitar stuff has never really called out to me, you know? Even though I know that Tom Petty felt very strongly about his songs staying as simple as possible, so that everyone could play it on an acoustic guitar around a camp fire, right? He believed this. I think it worked for him, too, because he was worth something like $95 million when he died. Keep it simple.

(As an aside, I saw a video on Youtube recently, by way of the AThousandMistakes blog in Australia. It was Warren Ellis and the Dirty 3 playing a recent concert in Sydney, I think. And he was introducing a specific song as their version of a camp fire song that people were supposed to be able to play on their acoustic guitars. It was so funny, because no way on earth could anyone else have been able to even attempt to play that thing.)

Anyway, I was looking at some of those Tom Petty songs in the songbook and I was actually astounded to see that some of my favorites from his early days always had about 3 chords. They were so simple to play.  Even Free Fallin‘ — I had no idea it had 2 chords in the whole song. In fact, the melody itself is comprised of 3 notes, sometimes sang an octave higher, but 3 notes!! In the whole song.

That tells you a lot about how to become a wealthy songwriter in America, doesn’t it? Where we prefer things to be emotionally simple. We really do. I’m not knocking it, either, because I love that song Free Fallin.’ But we want our songs simple. We’re either happy, sad, or angry. That’s about it.

(As another aside, I remember coming out of Mel’s Diner on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. It was late at night. I was with Peitor and I was talking about a song Nick Cave had written, “We Call upon the Author to Explain.” I just love that song, you know. And I said something to Peitor, like, “I just don’t understand why Americans don’t love Nick Cave.” And Peitor looked at me like I was from Jupiter and he said, “Nick Cave is too smart. Americans like things to be stupid.”)

I don’t want that to sound like an indirect way of saying Tom Petty was stupid, because he wasn’t. He just saw the value in keeping it really simple. And yesterday, as I marveled at the 2-chord, 3-note structure of Free Fallin‘ and, you know, considered the state of my own bank account, and I wondered if simplicity wasn’t in fact the way to go…

Okay, gang! I gotta get started here!! As you know, I have a lot of work to do on Tell My Bones in the next 2 weeks. To put it mildly.

Thanks for visiting, though. I love you guys! And I leave you with your right to choose!! Simple, or not so simple. Okay. I love you guys. See ya!

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

Si!! Per due giorni non ho studiato italiano!!

Yes! That’s right!

This morning, I realized that I hadn’t studied my Italian lessons for the past 2 days. Which also means I missed my Sunday quiz!

Ack!! I’ve been so caught up in revisions of the play, as well as the profoundly intense heat wave, that everything else fell from my awareness.

I’m not gonna spend the rest of the summer giving you the weather report for around here, but I do want to at least say that it is an unbelievably beautiful day here, today. All the heat and thunderstorms are completely gone.  It is sunny and mild and supposed to stay that way all week. And by mild, I mean it’s going down into the high 50s Fahrenheit during the night! I feel transformed because of it.

I did not feel transformed yesterday, though.

I had a very challenging day with the revisions for Tell My Bones.

I was getting good work done. I liked what was coming, but it was painstakingly slow going. And I am still having trouble going back & forth between the new revisions for the overall play, and the staged reading version of the play , which is condensed and shorter, less music, etc.

And as I make the revisions to the overall play, I then have to go back to the staged reading version and make sure it gets updated. So the constant switching back & forth was extremely distracting.

After I was at it for 8 hours, the director of the play called to wish me a happy birthday and to confirm our lunch appointment for today — AND to say that he was reading the screenplay version of Tell My Bones and that it was incredibly wonderful and he told me all the reasons why he thought so and that he lamented that the play couldn’t capture a lot of that because they were two different media.

(The screenplay scored really well in several high-profile screenplay competitions the year I wrote it, and won Best Voice of Color at the Cleveland Independent Film Festival the following year.)

While we were talking, I was already so incredibly exhausted from laboring over the revisions of the play for 8 hours, that my “take away” from the phone call was that the play was nowhere near as good as the screenplay and so I had to start from scratch or something.

It blew my evening right out of the water, and not in a good way. I stayed at my desk for 3 more hours wondering, what am I supposed to do here? How do I turn this into the screenplay?

Loyal readers of this lofty blog no doubt recall that Sandra and I struggled with just that very thing for a couple of years before I came to the conclusion (with input from Peitor in Los Angeles) that I had to let go of the screenplay entirely, and approach the play from a whole new perspective. Because it wasn’t working for the stage.

Last night, though, I kept feeling that there must be a way to sort of layer aspects of the screenplay on top of the play…. and have a 90 minute full-cast dramatic screenplay magically become a 90 minute one-woman play with music.

I’m sure you can readily see that I was completely out of my mind.

Eventually I realized that I was starving and needed to eat dinner. So I finally closed the darn laptop and walked away.

This morning, though, I had an entirely fresh perspective on all of it. And I know something magical is going to transform or infuse the play with aspects of the screenplay. I don’t know yet what that is but I can feel it sort of hovering at the edges of my mind.

Even though this also means that at my meeting today, revisions to the script will not be finished. But it isn’t the end of the world. I still have  2 weeks before Sandra gets here to begin the initial rehearsals.

(Here’s something interesting that I just noticed: Whenever I need to type the word “being” it always comes out as “begin” and I have to fix it. But just there when I needed to type the word “begin” it came out as “being”! Clearly, I know how to type the word “being” so why can’t I just type it the right way when I need it??!!)

Anyway. Hey, thanks to new readers who are coming here through the post over at EdgeofHumanity.com yesterday. I appreciate it.

I thought it was kind of interesting that yesterday was my birthday and the first excerpt from my childhood memoir-in-progress, In the Shadow of Narcissa, went out on the EdgeofHumanity.com feed.  I don’t know why I wasn’t expecting that. I knew it was coming out this week, but I didn’t think it would be on Monday.

I have emotional issues with In the Shadow of Narcissa, only because it is very hard for me to write.  It’s hard for me to emotionally claim all the stuff I need to in order to write it. But I do feel 100% sure that I need to write it, so I’m not going to allow my emotions to get in the way of that.

Still, seeing something so personal to me arrive as another entity’s web update in my inbox, was startling. Partly, you know, I just want to remove myself from it. It’s the only way I can handle it, really.

I appreciate so much that they are wiling to publish it over at Edge of Humanity, though, because I think it’s helping me stick with the process of writing it.

Okay, gang. I’m gonna get started around here now because I have to have that lunch meeting in a couple of hours. I hope you have a terrific Tuesday, wherever you are in the world!! I leave you with the breakfast listening music from today! “Opium Tea” from B-Sides & Rarities. A song with an hypnotic, groovy little groove to it. Thanks for visiting! I love you guys! See ya.

“Opium Tea”

Here I sleep the morning through
‘Til the wail of the call to prayer awakes me
And there is nothing at all to do
But rise and follow the day wherever it takes me

[Chorus]
I stand at the window and I look at the sea
And I am what I am and what will be will be
I stand at the window and I look at the sea
And I make me a pot of opium tea

Down at the port I watch the boats come in
Oh, watching the boats come in can do something to you
And the kids gather around with an outstretched hand
And I toss them a dirham or two

[Chorus]
Well, I wonder if my children are thinking of me
Cause I am what I am and what will be will be
I wonder if my kids are thinking of me
And I smile and I sip my opium tea

At night the sea lashes the rust-red ramparts
In the shapes of hooded men who pass me
And the mad moaning wind laughs and laughs and laughs and laughs
At the strange lot that fate has cast me

[Chorus]
The cats on the rampart sing merrily
That he is what he is and what will be will be
The cats on the rampart sing merrily
And I sit and I drink my opium tea

I’m a prisoner here, I can never go home
There is nothing here to win or lose
There are no choices need to be made at all
Not even the choice of having to choose

[Chorus]
I’m a prisoner yes, but I’m also free
Cause am what I am and what will be will be
I’m a prisoner here but I’m also free
And I smile and I sip my opium tea

c – 1996 Conway Savage & Nick Cave

Don’t just sit there reading this, dust something!!

Yes! So far, it’s a terrific Tuesday! I’m teaching the cats how to use a vacuum cleaner!  (It seems fair, since they shed more than I do and I have way too much to do and they’re always just sitting there, staring at stuff.) (At dust, most likely.)

Oh, before I forget, I uploaded another old song. (If you’re on your phone, you have to turn it sideways to see it.) This is a really terrible demo, which is unfortunate because I love this song. But it’s the only version of it that was ever transferred to MP3.  The demo was made back in 1985 on the 4 track in my bedroom, and then we took it to my boyfriend’s bedroom (a drummer), to his 4 track at his place, and he added some drum & synth stuff.

We had a really fun time making it, but it was only ever intended to be a reference demo to take to the studio. And, alas, it shows! But if you listen to it, try to hear the fun & not the horrible quality of sound!

Anyway! Yes, it’s Tuesday!! And I approach this day knowing full well I have too much to do!

In another brief conversation I had with Gus Van Sant Sr. the other day:

HIM: “Well, who’s your agent now? Who’s managing you?”

ME: “Nobody. I suppose I’d better do something about that, but I just, you know – me and agents….”

HIM: (laughter — too much, in fact)

I won’t repeat the rest of the conversation!! It is sufficient to say, I need to bite the bullet and stop doing everything myself because my life is getting a wee bit unwieldy over here.

Yes! I will indeed be contributing a brief segment of my new memoir-in-progress, In the Shadow of Narcissa, to Edge of Humanity Magazine once a week or so. This will be a condensed version of what will appear on my own site.

Yes! This means I have to be sure to write something new (& publishable) at least once a week, and I am now up to my eyeballs with revisions of Tell My Bones because Sandra will be arriving pretty much any moment now to begin rehearsals.

If you don’t follow EdgeofHumanity.com, they feature a lot of really cool photo journalists from all over the world. I really love the photographs on that site. Plus, there’s poetry, people’s music playlists, and occasional nonfiction stuff.  Which is where my pieces from In the Shadow of Narcissa come in: occasional nonfiction stuff.

I’m excited.  I’ve been following them for a while and it’s a whole worldful of other readers.

I’m not really sure why I suddenly found this memoir of my childhood springing out of me, or why I felt I needed to lock myself into a weekly publication schedule for it. I’m still doing my Inner Being journaling every morning, and re: the new memoir, it said: “To a point, it serves you to examine these things because it is assisting your journey out of the DARKNESS.” (That word actually came out capitalized.)

(You should keep one of these journals, gang. They are  incredible and surprising and illuminating.)

I don’t consider myself someone who is still in darkness. However, by writing this memoir, and facing things about my adoptive mother — I have always tried to focus on the good side of her and block out the bad, but that was part of her narcissism: training me to do that — more and more I see that it is in fact a miracle that I survived my childhood. I did attempt suicide twice, but my will to live, which was always bubbling underneath the nightmare, was just ridiculously strong. It’s sort of startling to recognize that now; to marvel at the odds that I am even still here. So I guess that’s the purpose the memoir is serving for now.

Obviously, I’m hoping that the memoir will be helpful to someone else out there who will read it. Assuming I manage to drag something uplifting and helpful out of that whole mess.

Yesterday, Nick Cave’s Red Hand Files newsletter brought up some really difficult memories for me re: my mother and the death of my boyfriend back in the summer of 1974. (The newsletter was about the death of his own son and the death of someone else’s son.) And I just could not shake the memories for the whole day.

Still, it was good to sort of see it. Not to dwell on it, but to acknowledge it and try to process it somehow.

Yesterday was actually the “anniversary” of me being committed to a mental hospital after my first suicide attempt in 1975. I was put in there right before my 15th birthday. They actually gave me a birthday cake in there. However, I was on “suicide precaution,” which meant that for the first several weeks of my incarceration (I was literally incarcerated – I was there against my will and in a building where we were literally locked in and the windows were covered in this heavy mesh stuff that you couldn’t break out of.  And everything inside the place was locked. Everything.  Every drawer, every cabinet, every door, every window. And any room where you could possibly be alone in it — that was also locked. In that building, we were treated like criminals but it was only because we were all suicidal.)

Anyway! That’s cheery, right? But I digress.

On my 15th birthday, they gave me a piece of birthday cake (the rest of my cake, they gave to everybody else), but I was confined to my room because I was brand new there and on “suicide precaution.” And I was only allowed to use a spoon. For several weeks, I was only allowed to use a spoon because forks & knives were elements of destruction.

Those first few weeks in there were so frightening to me, because I was always confined alone in my room. And of course, everyone outside of my room was “crazy.”  And if I needed to use the bathroom, Security would accompany me. It was a communal bathroom, which in and of itself I hated. Just no privacy at all. Ever. And the Security person (a man) would follow me right in to the bathroom and just stand there while I tried helplessly to just do what I needed to do in there. He was protecting me from myself, I guess. But it was awful because I was only 15, and really shy, and of course my period had come because it always managed to come when it was least wanted.

It was just awful, those first few weeks.

But what eventually sank in was that my mother was not able to get at me in that place — they wouldn’t let her visit me for a long time– and for the first time in my 15 years of life, I had a sense of peace. It didn’t last long, but it did come.

Anyway, I have to scoot. I have been alerted via a text from Sandra that we are having a phone chat in 5 minutes…

Have a terrific Tuesday, wherever you are in the world, gang! Thanks for visiting. I’m going to leave you with this unlikely song. I actually listened to it last night for the first time in over 40 years. It was the song that was playing on the AM radio when they were telling me to get into the car because I was being taken to a mental hospital, for my own protection or something insane like that. It was a song I associated closely with Greg, my boyfriend who had died. By then he had almost been dead one year. And the song was unbearable for me to hear, even on days when I wasn’t being scurried off to a loony bin .

But I played the song last night, and I lived through it. I’m hoping you will, too. I love you guys. See ya!

“Please Mr. Please”

In the corner of the bar there stands a jukebox
With the best of country music, old and new
You can hear your five selections for a quarter
And somebody else’s songs when yours are throughI got good Kentucky whiskey on the counter
And my friends around to help me ease the pain
‘Til some button-pushing cowboy plays that love song
And here I am just missing you again

Please, Mr., please, don’t play B-17
It was our song, it was his song, but it’s over
Please, Mr., please, if you know what I mean
I don’t ever wanna hear that song again

If I had a dime for every time I held you
Though you’re far away, you’ve been so close to me
I could swear I’d be the richest girl in Nashville
Maybe even in the state of Tennessee

But I guess I’d better get myself together
‘Cause when you left, you didn’t leave too much behind
Just a note that said “I’m sorry” by your picture
And a song that’s weighing heavy on my mind

Please, Mr., please, don’t play B-17
It was our song, it was his song, but it’s over
Please, Mr., please, if you know what I mean
I don’t ever wanna hear that song again

c – 1975 WELCH BRUCE, ROSTILL JOHN HENRY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ah well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Foun Kee, London, 1979

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love you guys. See ya.

“Always On My Mind”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

c-  1970 CHRISTOPHER JOHN LEE JR, JAMES MARK, CARSON WAYNE

Best Morning Ever!

And by that of course I mean that the raccoons have returned to my maple tree! A mom and 2 cubs. They’re chattering away as I type.  (If you scroll down to my Instagram feed, you can see a photo of them. Click on it and it gets larger but it takes you to my Instagram page. For some reason, the photo has disappeared from my phone.)

Anyway. I love them. The hole in the center of the tree is parallel to the window I can see out of from my bed. I don’t even have to lift my wee bonny head from my pillow to see them. I can just lie there and watch them and they are so cute.

Okay. Well! Thank you to all of you who are visiting my “In the Shadow of Narcissa” site even though I already told you there is nothing there yet but a photo!! You are making me feel guilty!

ME (stumbling upon my stats page this morning because I still can’t figure my way around the back end of that new site): “Oh my goodness! Visitors! And I have nothing to give them!”

It’s sort of like having house guests and no food in the house…

I am going to try, once again, to work on that today and post something there. Although I wasn’t expecting it to take this long and need to focus more on the play. But we’ll see how it goes.

My solution to the problem of not being able to get the new site to do what I want it to do, is that I’ve made it just one single page. That’s it. You can follow it. You can contact me. But that is the only bell and the only whistle.  I am just going to post there on that one single page and that’s it.

So frustrating! (grumble grumble) And I’ve been building web sites since 1997, when you basically had to build the whole darn thing from HTML.

Why do they have to “make things better” only to then make them impossible to figure out?

A dear friend of mine, who is almost 80, asked me to look at her brand new dishwasher for her on Monday because it wasn’t washing the dishes. She would load up the soap, press “start,” but the soap would never be used, just be spilled all over, dry,  when she opened it, hours later. And her husband, who has dementia, kept putting dirty dishes away in the cupboards. She was going nuts.

HER (heavy sigh): “I should have gotten another Kitchenaide instead of this one.”

ME: “No, this is an LG. It’s much better than a Kitchenaide. Something’s just weird here. Let me look at it.”

And it turned out that the dishwasher had a “Delay” button connected to wi-fi, which had somehow been turned  to “on”, so that you can start your dishwasher later on, from your cell phone! She had no clue!  It was perpetually set to “delay.”

For Christ’s sake. Who fucking really needs that?! I can understand wanting your home security system connected to your cell phone. I can almost even understand wanting your thermostat connected to your cell phone. But your dishwasher?

My poor friend was going insane because her brand new, really expensive dishwasher wasn’t doing a darn thing and she was ready to have them come take the really nice brand new dishwasher away. (And she has her hands full enough, trying to look after a husband who has dementia.)

So. Anyway. My solution to my growing annoyance over the back end of the new web site was to simply make it one page. That’s all I really need anyway.  And, hopefully, on we go.

Nick Cave‘s Red Hand Files newsletter came out again this morning. I already read it, sort of by accident. I usually read it after I “get everything done.” It came earlier than it usually arrives, though, and I was just rapidly scrolling through my inbox on my phone, cleaning everything out of there (meaning “delete, delete, delete”) and then suddenly there it was, right in front of me, so I read it.

It seemed sort of sad to me. Of course, I always read everything from my own perspective, so I could be wildly wrong about that.  I will have to read it again, but it sort of seemed sad. God knows, I now have something else to ponder. And no answers will ever be forthcoming, so it will likely be one of those things I ponder until the cows come home.

Although, that said – around these parts, the cows actually do come home…

And raccoons, too! I’m thinking that the mommy racoon is probably one of the cubs that was born in the tree last spring. I have missed them so much!

Which in a roundabout and very convoluted way, brings me back to my thoughts about my niece (see yesterday’s post). And I feel like I can’t figure out what I should really do there.

My one sister and I are very close. She raised 2 girls, and she did an incredible job at it. (When she and her partner got together a million years ago, her partner had 2 very young daughters from a previous marriage and my sister helped raise them until they went off to college.)

And she loved those girls, and did everything she was supposed to do and all that. But they did make her crazy because they did stuff that all young people do. And I recall one time, a guy my sister knew was really, really wanting to have kids but his wife didn’t want them.  And my sister took the guy out to her truck, opened the side door and told him, “Here, dude. Slam your dick in this door a few times until the feeling goes away.”

She’s not a real fan of raising children anymore.

And she definitely has a really low tolerance for bullshit from young people now. And her opinion yesterday re: my concerns over my niece was drastically different from mine. And I know she knows what she’s talking about and so I think, what do I do here? Just let everyone live their own lives and look the other way?

Well, yes, let everyone live their own lives. But the other part – not even trying? Just walk away? Mind my own business?

It’s mostly my niece’s dad that I want to talk to my niece about. My brother. Because I saw and I knew a side of my brother that nobody else ever saw. Ever. I was really close to my younger brother for a long time, until he pushed me too far, too, and I finally had to walk away.  Like everybody else had.

But I know there was another path he had tried to go down; there was another kind of man he had tried to be. I remember that man he was so well, and I’m certain my niece has no clue that man ever existed. She just sees the man as he is now (indescribable alcoholic). I hate to think that’s all she’s destined to see.

My younger brother is on the left; my second husband is on the right. In Jackson, Ohio, Spring 1993.

Well, okay. Let me get going here. Spend some time on the other site and hopefully get something underway there, finally.  And spend a million hours pondering the Nick Cave thing. God knows, I can’t have a fulfilling life without stuffing my head full with a bunch of questions that have no answers whatsoever!

Have a great Thursday, wherever you are in the world! I leave you with this today. A song my brother and I used to play the fuck out of the summer after the album Centerfield by John Fogerty came out (1986). PLEASE please please play this one really loud, okay? In honor of the guy my brother used to be, such a long wonderful time ago. A summer I will never forget.

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

“Rock And Roll Girls”

Sometimes I think life is just a rodeo
The trick is to ride and make it to the bell
But there is a place, sweet as you will ever know
In music and love and things you never tell
You see it in their face, secrets on the telephone
A time out of time, for you and no one else

Hey, let’s go all over the world
Rock and roll girls, rock and roll girls

Yeah, yeah, yeah

If I had my way, I’d shuffle off to Buffalo
Sit by the lake and watch the world go by
Ladies in the sun, listenin’ to the radio
Like flowers on the sand, the rainbow in my mind

Hey, let’s go all over the world
Rock and roll girls, rock and roll girls

Hey, let’s go all over the world
Rock and roll girls, rock and roll girls

Hey, let’s go all over the world
Rock and roll girls, rock and roll girls, yeah, yeah, yeah

c – 1985 John Fogerty

Another Wonder-Filled Evening in Crazeysburg!

I’ll be brief because it’s been a long day.

A long fabulous day! And I’m tired!

Plus, recently, my new coffee cup – the one that loves me, or I should say, has that very loving quote on it by F. Scott Fitzgerald that makes the cup appear to love me. Well, recently, the cup reminded me that I never finished watching “Z: The Beginning of Everything” on Amazon Prime because I moved to this house  in the middle of it and then forgot all about it.

So I’m trying to make myself stop working in the evenings and watch that show in its entirety.  In other words, be like a normal human being (sometimes).

However, as I indicated earlier today, I am indeed going to be doing 2 new blog-related things every week. I am launching a new blog that is an intimate memoir-in-progress, titled In the Shadow of Narcissa. You can look at it here, but there is only a photo there right now.

If you were raised by a narcissist, or deal in any personal way with a narcissist, you know what a scarring psycholgical nightmare that can be.  It’s not going to be a nightmare about the horrors of being raised by a narcissist. It’s about how my mind helped me creatively survive being raised by a narcissist and how that childhood shaped me into the delightfully erotic and neurotic creature I am today!  I will probably post there twice a week.

However, I’m also going to be taking excerpts from those posts, condense them down considerably, and publish them at the Edge of Humanity Magazine once or twice a week, as well.

So I am excited and I will keep you posted about all of that.

I am also very excited to announce that an excerpt from my new novel, Blessed By Light (an excerpt that none of you have read yet, I might add) will be published in an upcoming issue of the Exterminating Angel Press Magazine.

So I am just very, very excited, gang. On all fronts.

But now I am just very, very exhausted, so I’m gonna close down the laptop and actually step away from my desk!! And I’m gonna go downstairs and watch F. Scott Fitzgerald convince Zelda (she is, in fact, the “Z” who is the beginning of everything) that he is going to marry her, even though she’s beginning to worry that he’s just a weak alcoholic and not committed to being a great writer.

Okay! Thanks for visiting, gang. I hope your evening is swell, wherever you are in the world and whatever you’re doing in it! I leave you with what I was listening to this afternoon on my “lunch hour” (or 20 minutes, or whatever I actually allow myself!). New from Texas Hippie Coalition, “Why Aren’t You Listening?” From their album High In the Saddle.  Okay. I love you guys! See ya!

“Why Aren’t You Listening”

The song has been sung
The deed has been done
God has not come
Why aren’t you listening?

Deep inside I deal with struggle
As you’ve seen my mind gets muddled
And though I seem complicated
It’s the reason I’m so hated
And though some may find me frightening
Others say I’m quite enlightening
And though you may find it shocking
I am still alive and rocking

The song has been sung (I’m still singin’)
The deed has been done (We’re still breathin’)
God has not come (I’m still believin’)
Why aren’t you listening?

I hear you say you want to kill me
And still deep down I know you feel me
I try to cut through all the static
Still I feel a little panic
Please address my mental illness
And please tell me that you feel this
And though you may find it shocking
I am still alive and rocking

The song has been sung (I’m still singin’)
The deed has been done (We’re still breathin’)
God has not come (I’m still believin’)
Why aren’t you listening?
Why aren’t you listening?

It doesn’t have to be mystical
Just as long as it’s spiritual
No need for the ritual
Just as long as it feels magical
It doesn’t have to be mystical
Just as long as it’s spiritual
No need for ritual
Just as long as it feels magical

You’re still singin’
We’re still breathin’
I still believe in
Why aren’t you listening?

The song has been sung (I’m still singin’)
The deed has been done (We’re still breathin’)
God has not come (I’m still believin’)
Why aren’t you listening?
The song has been sung (I’m still singin’)
The deed has been done (We’re still breathin’)
God has not come (I’m still believin’)
Why aren’t you listening?
Why aren’t you listening?

C- 2019 Texas Hippie Coalition